Dowman resists swing overtones from Mullally

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Life at the foot of the First Division was pretty much as you would expect here yesterday: not too much quality, plenty of nervy playing and missing, and fielding lapses galore, the chief beneficiary of which was Derbyshire's Mathew Dowman.

Life at the foot of the First Division was pretty much as you would expect here yesterday: not too much quality, plenty of nervy playing and missing, and fielding lapses galore, the chief beneficiary of which was Derbyshire's Mathew Dowman.

At the last count Dowman escaped six times in a stay of 81 overs, mostly off the unlucky and increasingly incredulous Alan Mullally. Between times, or you might say in his fourth and fifth innings, he reeled off some good-looking strokes, and his ability not to be fazed by these episodes was not the least impressive aspect of his batting.

When he put the ball in the right place, swinging it late, Mullally was irresistible. He began by removing Steve Stubbings, who had batted all day against Kent on Monday, with the first ball of the match, but he could not snare Dowman, who was first dropped at gully when only four.

Two stoppages for rain enabled Mullally to bowl unchanged throughout the morning session. Just before the interval Dowman survived again when Shane Warne could not hold a return chance; just afterwards he was badly dropped at slip off Mullally, leaving to speculation that a "Dowman's lunch" probably consisted of humble pie sandwiched by two straightforward chances.

Elsewhere, Mullally had more rewards. Operating round the wicket, he persuaded Steve Titchard to offer no stroke to a ball that came in on the angle and knocked out his off-stump. Michael Di Venuto, currently in a spell where he is finding various ways of getting out early on, then received a beauty which demanded a stroke around off stump and left him late.

Rob Bailey could only nick an intended drive and, in the context of the day, could consider himself somewhat unfortunate to be well picked up by John Stephenson at slip. This left Dowman with much to do on a slow, occasionally variable pitch. It was to his credit that he found the selectivity and patience that the circumstances demanded of him.

Even so, he enjoyed one other outrageous moment of fortune when he was beaten by a ball from Dimitri Mascarenhas which clipped his off-stump and dislodged a bail, only for it to drop back into its groove.

That must have convinced Dowman it really was his day and he battled on with growing confidence and fluency to emerge unbeaten with 102 from 257 balls, with 16 fours, his second first-class century and his first for Derbyshire.

Comments