Cricket: Malcolm bowling at near his best

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 230; Nottinghamshire 199

ANOTHER day of gritty, old-fashioned cricket went initially Derbyshire's way here yesterday. Their bowlers rediscovered the lost art of length and line and their fielders backed them up by clinging on to an assortment of excellent catches.

For Nottinghamshire, it all added up to one of those frustrating days when every error of judgment or lapse in concentration was punished on a pitch which did not yield a half-century until Graeme Archer's patient innings later left the first-innings margin at only 31.

It was also one of those more familiar days when Notts were without Chris Lewis, who was absent from their attack after straining a muscle in his side when he got through six overs at modest pace on the first day.

Lewis's apparent aversion to the grind of county cricket appears to be no secret to his fellow professionals. However, earlier in the week Brian Bolus, presumably speaking on behalf of his fellow England selectors, emphasised that no player who was not performing for his county could expect to be picked for England.

Bolus was among those present yesterday. Of Lewis's absence he said: 'Clearly if he is not fit and fully operational for his county, it gives the selectors a problem.' The journeymen of county cricket will await their decision with interest - unless, of course, Lewis declares himself unfit first.

Lewis was able to bat, though that was after the selectorial eye had seen Devon Malcolm and Phil DeFreitas using the new ball at something like their best after Andy Pick had mopped up the Derby tail to take 6 for 62.

This left Tim O'Gorman high and dry with an unbeaten 44 which occupied 234 balls, a fair indication of the grafting qualities required. With doubts about the quality of Derbyshire's second- line attack, Notts probably felt that overcoming the new ball was more important than ever.

Malcolm, however, produced a beauty that held its line to hit Mark Crawley's off-stump before having Paul Pollard caught off a fast-travelling chance at slip. DeFreitas picked up his reward when Jimmy Adams's first error of timing resulted in a low catch at short extra cover.

When Malcolm returned, Paul Johnson middled a pull to be superbly caught inches from the ground at midwicket and Richard Sladdin, the slow left-armer, straightened one to have Lewis caught at the wicket, leaving Archer to battle his way past 50.

His innings ended when he played on to DeFreitas at a time when Notts were fancying a small, but precious first-innings lead. That went to Derbyshire but the loss of Peter Bowler and Sladdin, the nightwatchman, to successive balls, tilted the balance of a low scoring but absorbing contest.