Captains take easy option

Derbyshire 165 and 435-5 Warwickshire 204 <i>Match drawn</i>
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Remember three-day cricket, that dinosaur of the Eighties, long accused and found guilty for all England's cricketing problems? Four-day cricket was the cry from those in the know – "that will solve everything" – so the powerbrokers at Lord's changed the structure of the game.

Remember three-day cricket, that dinosaur of the Eighties, long accused and found guilty for all England's cricketing problems? Four-day cricket was the cry from those in the know – "that will solve everything" – so the powerbrokers at Lord's changed the structure of the game.

Undoubtedly it has been beneficial in many respects but sadly it seems to have killed any imaginative or daring captaincy.

This match effectively became a three-day contest after Thursday was washed out and with Derbyshire rooted to the bottom of Division Two without a Championship win, and Warwickshire pushing for promotion, there were hopes of a final-day battle for points. It would need some bold play and, more importantly, some bold thinking but surely someone would grasp the game by the scruff of the neck and wring it until it yielded.

The fact that David Hemp came on to bowl at 3.20pm sums up the day. At his most penetrative best he is nothing more than a net bowler. That at least was better than the over Keith Piper, the wicketkeeper, bowled before tea.

Which side was to blame for the dull stalemate that filled the final two sessions? It does not really matter because it is indicative of much that is wrong with county cricket and the reason why the players fail so often when put under pressure.

Neil Smith shrugged his shoulders to a couple of barrackers in the crowd but this gesture revealed more than boredom with the day. It screamed his attitude of "what can we do? It's up to them to declare." Well, you could start by setting attacking fields when you bowl and trying to get the opposition out rather than just allowing the game to drift and then claiming the moral high ground.

That does not win matches. If one thing is to be learned from the Australians this summer, it must be that good, aggressive but disciplined cricket wins matches and wins over crowds.

Luke Sutton, 24, remained impervious to all and improved his statistics with a maiden first-class century while Graeme Welch completed his return to his old club by adding a half-century to his five-wicket haul. Neither mattered a great deal but maybe Derbyshire were determined not to be seen as a soft touch and any sympathy Warwickshire may have garnered was lost by their on-field attitude. It is amazing to think that only a few years ago they filled cupboards with trophies with their daring and exciting cricket.

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