Cricket: DeFreitas disappoints: Jon Culley reports from Derby

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Lancashire 477 and 270-8; Derbyshire 426

ANOTHER bland four-day pitch has produced some largely uninspiring cricket here so far but nonetheless it may yield one of the more influential reports for England's selectors to ponder over.

Philip DeFreitas completed his first five-wicket return since mid- May but was flattered by some dismal Derbyshire batting and Phil Sharpe's observations as one of Ted Dexter's spy network will surely be focused on Devon Malcolm, who could scarcely have laid more impressive claims for a recall to the Test side at Trent Bridge.

He launched himself into the sharp end of Lancashire's second innings with gusto and for his 11 overs in the afternoon an unresponsive surface underwent a startling metamorphosis.

Twice Malcolm hit the pitch with such venom that the ball cleared batsman and wicketkeeper but this was not one of the bowler's scattergun days.

Gehan Mendis and Nick Speak, after no little ducking and swaying, were forced by sheer pace in to fatal false strokes before Michael Atherton, having been struck on the hip and then dropped in the slips, tickled one to Bernie Maher behind the stumps.

Malcolm took his sweater with three for 30 and Lancashire, seeking to build on a first innings lead of 51, were in unexpected bother at 59 for 3. However, some woefully inaccurate bowling, much of it from another England contender, Dominic Cork, then aided a spectacular Lancashire advance to 235 for 4.

The balance altered again, however, when Ole Mortensen constructed a useful closing spell to account for Lloyd, DeFreitas and Warren Hegg in close succession and peg Lancashire to a lead of 321, eight down, at the close.