Cricket: Rollins fights back

Warwickshire v Derbyshire
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The Independent Online
NO PLAYER has yet managed to take this game by the scruff of the neck and turn the advantage in his side's favour. Although the ageless Phil DeFreitas added a further wicket to his overnight five yesterday morning, finishing with a handsome analysis of 6 for 92, he must still have felt that the Warwickshire tail had been allowed to overstay their welcome.

After a 10 minute drizzle delay they cobbled together a further 26 runs and a third batting point before succumbing at mid-day. The richly talented Anurag Singh did most of the damage on Friday, top-scoring with a brisk and handsome 58 off 41 balls with eight four and two sixes but, like all the accredited batsmen, he got out when seemingly established.

Resuming on 289 for 7, Warwickshire had lost Tim Munton lbw to DeFreitas while Trevor Smith tidied up with the wickets of Ashley Giles and Ed Giddins.

When Derbyshire took their turn it looked at first as if this was to be Michael Slater's day. He is a short man who reduces his height further by crouching low into the ball, but when he unfurls those wristy, perfectly timed flourishes and short-arm jabs to the boundary it is hard to credit that Australia are so rich in talent as to play a World Cup without him. Although he is a popular team man at Derby he will be required to improve on last year's Championship average of 27 - during the winter he made five Test centuries on three continents, and so the momentum is undeniably there.

Like the Warwickshire batsmen, however, he was undone too soon. Graeme Welch found a little extra sudden bounce and turned the Australian around, and a catch looped gently to Ashley Giles at gully. His opening partner Adrian Rollins then took over. Rollins, tall, burly and very powerful, had made an impressive start to the season. In between the showers, three Championship innings prior to this match had brought him 183 runs for once out. He added 51 more with great authority before Ed Giddins, bowling off a short run and swerving the ball both ways, induced a slash to second slip.

Meanwhile, Warwickshire had begun to run out of wicket keepers. First- choice Keith Piper is resting a bruised thumb, negligently earned warming up for this match, and substitute Tony Frost has a dodgy back. It lasted for just 25 overs before Trevor Penney was required to don the unfamiliar gauntlets. But it was that sort of day, with no-one seeming quite sure what they should be doing, waiting for someone else to take charge.