Cricket: DeFreitas sounds warning

Derbyshire 281 Lancashire 214-2
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The Independent Online
PHILLIP DeFREITAS did his considerable best to slow Lancashire's progress in one competition in the dress rehearsal for the final of another.

Lancashire and Derbyshire meet again on Saturday in the NatWest final at Lord's and DeFreitas gave his present county a psychological boost for that contest with his former employers with the sort of swashbuckling innings that wins one- day trophies, even if its effect yesterday was to make the County Championship points that Lancashire need rather harder to obtain.

But later in the day John Crawley reached 96 not out to give them a chance of earning the maximum points they need to keep the title race alive.

A match already shoe-horned into the schedule to finish tomorrow afternoon lost the whole of its first day on Tuesday. It was largely thanks to Wasim Akram's wayward opening burst that Derbyshire were able to give such a convincing impression of making up for lost time. The Lancashire captain's first over yielded 17 runs, including two no-balls and a total of six from one wide that shot between the slips and reached the boundary.

It was Peter Martin, bowling with much more control from the other end, who ended Derby's bright start, removing both openers in consecutive overs, both to catches in the slips.

Martin, celebrating his call up in England's one-day squad, could also have had Matthew Cassar out before scoring, but Graeme Lloyd could not hold a desperately difficult chance at wide fourth slip. It was a missed opportunity Lancashire were to regret, although they kept Derbyshire's progress in check, with Wasim coming back after his untidy first spell to remove Dominic Cork and Vince Clarke on either side of the lunch interval, both with his trademark toe-crushing yorker.

By then, Cassar was well established, moving to his 50 by pushing Ian Austin away to leg for two and then hammering Gary Keedy for a mighty six. It was to be his last act of aggression, because an adventurous innings ended on 70 in the next over when he was caught and bowled by Glen Chapple.

That left DeFreitas to hit out cheerfully against his old county, including a big straight six off Austin.

By comparison, Lancashire's start was sedate and in the eighth over of their reply Atherton dragged a ball from DeFreitas onto his stumps. Neil Fairbrother brightened things up with a dashing 48 and Lancashire sustained the momentum, particularly through Crawley who went ahead of Justin Langer as the leading first class run scorer this season.