Andy Bichel's determination to make an impact as Essex's latest overseas recruit yielded an immediate dividend as Derbyshire slumped to a three-day, eight-wicket defeat here yesterday. The Australian all-rounder, in his first Championship game for his third county, finished with 6 for 38 as the home side's promotion prospects took a jolt.
Despite his 36th birthday looming and his last Test appearance being two-and-a-half years ago Bichel was Pura Cup player of the year as Queensland clinched the trophy. His arrival is a boost for Essex, whose plan to employ Mitchell Johnson, for the first half of the season backfired when Johnson was called into the Australia side to tour Bangladesh. Bichel also has the benefit of three months' rest.
Derbyshire, last season's wooden spoonists, appear to have gone backwards after early-season improvement. Their extraordinary run of home Championship matches without a win now stands at 32, spanning four years.
Essex, 271 for 4 overnight, added 115 for a lead of 74. At 20 for 5, seemingly unable to cope with Bichel's swing, Derbyshire looked hard pressed even to make them bat again, despite Michael di Venuto being reprieved on nought when umpire Rob Bailey changed his mind over an lbw call. Steve Stubbings' dogged 39 and a boisterous 46 by Mohammad Sheikh gave Essex a chase as the floodlights illuminated a grey evening. They lost both openers but passed 89 in the first over of the extra half-hour.Reuse content