Cricket: Jones shores up Derbyshire

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 283-5 v Nottinghamshire

The pitches are green again at Trent Bridge this season. So, too, it may be argued, are many of Nottinghamshire's cricketers but there is no shortage of heart and ambition as Derbyshire discovered during the day of hard graft yesterday.

In the end, Derbyshire would have settled for making the best part of 300, especially after being put in, though this owed much to Dean Jones, who dropped anchor for some four hours and helped to camouflage events at the other end, where one batsman after another found a way of getting out after getting in.

As is often the case, the pitch looked more threatening than it played. The ball did not move much off the seam until, for some reason, in mid- afternoon; it was certainly too cold for it to swing, though the occasional uneven bounce and a sluggish pace meant that patience and self-discipline were prime requirements.

It was, too, a bleak day to be in the field with an inexperienced attack but, perhaps encouraged by the knowledge that Derbyshire's batsmen were either out of form or less than fully fit, they did not stick to their task well for the most part.

Late on in a demanding day their control of length and line was often variable and they will not want to concede so many runs from no balls and wides; but they would also have been cheered by the efforts of their 18-year-old fast bowler Paul Franks, who is clearly a genuine talent.

Even on this pitch he hit the bat hard and compelled the odd hurried stroke. He has clearly been well schooled in the Bassetlaw League, where Harold Larwood, Bill Voce and Les Jackson learned the rudiments of their trade, though as yet his 6ft 2in frame lacks the muscular power of that formidable trio.

He was unlucky to emerge wicketless. Wayne Noon, diving in front of first slip, which of course is his prerogative, dropped Chris Adams off him just after lunch. But the way he unsettled Adams probably had much to do with his dismissal soon afterwards.

By then Derbyshire's batsmen had embarked on a familiar pattern of digging in and then self destructing. Only Adrian Rollins, meeting a ball from Graeme Archer that might have bounced more than most, could consider himself unfortunate.

Jones himself probably needs time in the middle and made sure he got it, even though he did not always locate the middle of the bat early on and was also obliged to treat Franks with some respect. Vince Clarke leant him solid support in a stand worth 122 in 29 overs before carving at a wide one, whereupon Jones was quick to accept the umpires' offer of the light.