Cricket: Ill-luck dogs Lewis

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Derbyshire 230 & 222; Nottinghamshire 199 & 45-0

THE casual visitor to the Rutland Ground who had a passing acquaintance with the history of a certain cricketer might have guessed from an early announcement that a Test match selection was in the offing. 'Fielding in place of Chris Lewis will be . . .'

Not for the first time, Lewis has had to be discounted from selectorial deliberations because of injury. Brian Bolus left the ground yesterday afternoon, to join Ray Illingworth, Mike Atherton and company over dinner in Manchester, with the news that Lewis has a side strain and cannot be considered for the first Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Thursday. He is playing here but could bowl only six overs during Derbyshire's first innings and appeared only briefly yesterday as a substitute fielder.

''I spoke to Chris and he informed me that he is not fit,' Bolus said. 'My advice was to concentrate now on getting himself fit and bowling well.'

It seems clear that there will be no more chances for the enigmatic all-rounder until he has proved himself in county cricket, where he has been conspicuously inconsistent. Some might say that Lewis has been dogged by misfortune, but if he could only act on the Bolus prescription he would surely make his own luck.

The latest doctor's note raises the possibility of a recall for Phillip DeFreitas, whose last Test appearance was a year ago. DeFreitas, enjoying a new lease of life since leaving Lancashire, impressed Bolus with his bowling on Friday and showed character with the bat as Derbyshire ground out a potentially winning lead from their second innings in difficult conditions yesterday.

The ball that ended Frank Griffith's doughty efforts as night watchman sounded the alarms. But after Derbyshire had slipped to 142 for six, DeFreitas helped Tim O'Gorman, whose half century may acquire a much higher value, to place their side in a strong position.

Greg Mike broke them up when DeFreitas slashed to cover point, after which Andy Pick moved one away from O'Gorman in a quick demolition of the tail that gave the resurgent seamer match figures of nine for 115.

Nottinghamshire need 254 to win but, even though they survived an uncomfortable passage yesterday evening, it looks a tall order on this pitch.