Cricket: Corkers from Cork

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Derbyshire 266-7; Devon 132

Derbyshire win by 134 runs

EVEN if the result was inevitable, the setting at The Maer was incomparable and the occasion delightful. With the little white beach huts standing not much more than 100 yards away from the ground, where they were rather incongruously separated from the sand and the English Channel by a busy coast road, the home of Exmouth Cricket Club is cricket's equivalent to a links golf course.

The weather was good, the tops of occasional tall and colourful sails flickered past to lend a nautical touch and the crowd, although a little slow to build up, was more than reasonable when Devon's last four wickets tumbled after tea.

This was the sort of pitch where batsmen have to fight hard for every run. The ball came through so reluctantly on to the bat that it was almost as if the game was being played in slow motion. Even so, Kim Barnett made it clear that he was anxious to push the score along as fast as he could at the start.

Peter Roebuck, captaining Devon this year, countered by turning to his left-arm spinners after only five overs. With the ball taking such an age to arrive, this move stifled Derbyshire's progress for a while.

But these occasions always underline the huge gulf between first-class and minor counties. Barnett and Peter Bowler gradually attuned their reflexes to the problems of slow, slow left-arm spin. They put on 108 for the first wicket and both passed 50. So did Tim O'Gorman a little later, although he was lucky to have survived a confident appeal for a run out.

Devon began with a flourish as Steve Willis twice drove Ole Mortensen over extra cover and played Devon Malcolm square of his pads for a total of 11 runs in the first two overs. It transpired that Willis had bet a friend pounds 100 that he would reach double figures; he did so with panache and deserved his reward.

Willis's start was rudely interrupted by Dominic Cork, whose 4 for 9 in 25 balls won him the man of the match award. Later, David Townsend and Keith Donohue played some good strokes, but by then the issue had been settled.

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