Cricket: Malcolm excels

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 247 and 366-8 dec; Gloucestershire 195 and 67-4

TOWARDS the end of the proceedings at Queen's Park yesterday the crucial difference between the sides became clear. Devon Malcolm was playing for Derbyshire; Courtney Walsh was absent from the Gloucestershire team. Malcolm produced hostile pace and steep lift to leave Gloucestershire in the most perilous of positions. They are 351 behind, have six wickets left and will almost certainly lose early tomorrow.

Had Walsh been playing, it might never have reached such an unpretty pass. He has taken 73 ridiculously cheap first-class wickets this season as captain and opening bowler, and without him to contend with Derbyshire, despite their own best efforts to do otherwise, established an impregnable lead. The exception was their captain, Kim Barnett. He was patient and accumulative, refusing to be undone by bowling which had the merit of variation, though mostly in the range between innocuous and dreadful.

Barnett batted three hours 32 minutes for his runs, accelerating only towards the end when he struck his one six and generally clobbered the bowling. It was an essential innings. Many of the rest fell with discouraging carelessness. Chris Adams had batted most winningly for his half-century before spooning a catch to short leg off a delivery from the off-spinner Martyn Ball.

There were two catches offered to point, one to square leg, another to midwicket and Dominic Cork managed to hit his wicket, following through too far after dispatching a long-hop for four. Barnett, joined latterly by Allan Warner, ensured that the lead was, if anything, excessive.

Saving the match and their eighth position must have been as far as Gloucestershire's ambitions extended. Not for long. In his third over, Malcolm found a ball which lifted and left Matthew Windows. In his fourth, another steepler found Tim Hancock sending to short leg and, in his eighth, Bobby Dawson inadvisedly drove a return catch which the bowler clung on to well.

It was a highly impressive spell of sustained menace which brought him three for 32 in 11 overs - and this from a bowler who tends to be written off more often than he has been written up.