Cricket: DeFreitas launches solo attack

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Derbyshire 242 and 189-6 Warwickshire 231

Derbyshire's need to win this match became more pointed with every new dispatch from Chester-le-Street, but on the evidence so far it is difficult to predict with confidence that they can keep their Championship aspirations alive by achieving this requirement.

Their lead, painstakingly ground out yesterday in conditions not inclined to promote fluent strokeplay, does not yet look enough, and the prospects for substantial additions today are not encouraging, particularly with Dominic Cork expected to play no further part because of his damaged shoulder.

The double edge to Cork's absence, of course, is that Derbyshire have only three front-line bowlers, one of whom may prove more of a liability than an asset if first-innings form is any guide.

If there was a moment for Devon Malcolm to slip back into his worst habits, this was not it. Derbyshire's hour of need drew an heroic response from Philip DeFreitas, who continued his Herculean efforts of Thursday evening with three more wickets yesterday morning, finishing with 7 for 101, his best for the county, from 32 overs. Against this had to be balanced Malcolm's none for 62 from eight overs.

Lest anyone assume otherwise, Malcolm has recovered from the traumas of last winter to enjoy an effective season, taking 67 wickets in the Championship at around 30 runs each. But the radar failed him yesterday, when his four overs cost 34 runs. DeFreitas's late in-swing, meanwhile, accounted for Dougie Brown, Keith Piper and Gladstone Small as Warwickshire, 131 for 5 overnight, slipped to 169 for 9, with Andrew Harris taking the other wicket to fall when Ashley Giles edged to the wicketkeeper, Karl Krikken. With Malcolm exiled to the outfield, Warwickwickshire took advantage of his tiring team-mates, their last-wicket pair adding 62 to cut Derbyshire's advantage to 11 runs.

Derbyshire then struggled through 73 overs to stretch their lead to 200 by the close, having stumbled to 47 for 3 and recovered through a partnership of 81 between Tim O'Gorman and his captain, Dean Jones. That ended when Jones advanced on Giles and was stumped on the leg side. O'Gorman then fell to one that Brown brought back to send his off-stump flying.