Cricket: Penney's drops anchor

Derbyshire 242 & 255 Warwickshire 231 & 270-6 Warwickshire win by 4 wkts
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The Independent Online
It was sunny and warm here yesterday, but in the end the sun that set over the Racecourse Ground also set on Derbyshire's championship hopes. After losing to Warwickshire, having controlled the day until the final session, the closest they can come to the title is the 40-odd miles that separate Derby from Leicester. To that distance can be added Trevor Penney's unbeaten 83 and Ashley Giles's 67 not out, which in effect eliminated them from the race.

No one put in more effort for Derbyshire than Phillip DeFreitas. He followed up his best figures for the county in Warwickshire's first innings by bowling 19 overs on the roll yesterday while Devon Malcolm and young Andrew Harris made inroads at the other end.

None of them, however, was helped by a pitch that had lost its sting, and Derbyshire were also handicapped by the injury that prevented Dominic Cork from bowling.

They had begun the day needing their last four wickets to extend an overnight lead of 200 to at least 250. Thanks principally to DeFreitas, Karl Krikken and Cork they managed it, albeit taking 23 overs to add 66. Cork, hunchbacked by the felt padding protecting his damaged left shoulder, hit four boundaries with a bottom-hand technique born of necessity.

There was also a neo-classical four from Malcolm before he was quirkily run out - backing up too far when Krikken was "caught" by Tim Munton at mid-on from a no ball - and all the while Krikken patiently held it all together.

A victory target of 267 would not have been unduly forbidding for a team in better batting shape than Warwickshire appear at present. Indeed, while Nick Knight and Andy Moles were helping themselves to 24 in the five overs up to lunch, batting looked straightforward, but it was not so simple after the break. In the 42 overs to tea Warwickshire scored just 105 runs for the loss of five wickets.

Moles went first, hurried into his pull shot by Malcolm's pace and caught by DeFreitas running in from long leg. Malcolm also accounted for Knight, extracting enough extra bounce to make the England opening batsman mistime his drive to short cover. In between, Andrew Harris put gloss on his England A selection by removing Wasim Khan and Michael Burns.

Dougie Brown's wicket was just reward for DeFreitas, and when, having helped put on 57, Keith Piper dragged one of Kim Barnett's slow-mediums on to his stumps, Warwickshire's fate looked sealed.

However, Penney cracked Malcolm for three leg-side boundaries in a wayward over to remind Derbyshire that they still had a job in hand. Moreover, their bowlers were beginning to tire, and as Penney and Giles built a match-winning stand of 129 with individual half-centuries, you could sense the game slipping away from Derbyshire. When Giles was dropped off Malcolm at slip with 18 runs required, that virtually confirmed it.