Having begun to contemplate the grim prospect that they might not win a Championship match all season, Derbyshire played well enough here yesterday to suggest that this unwelcome thought could be banished in this game.
There is scope yet for everything to fall apart should the demons crowd in again, which has been a common occurrence so far. All of their five defeats have been by wide margins, three by an innings.
On Thursday, following Wednesday's complete wash-out, it did appear another was in the offing as Warwickshire reduced them to 101 for 8. But then came the stand-in captain Tim Munton's heroic impersonation of a man who could bat, putting to shame the efforts of the so-called proper batsmen under his charge, and it seemed yesterday to have inspired in Derbyshire the belief that they could actually win.
At 88 for 2 overnight, Warwickshire ought to have taken the match by the scruff of the neck and used it to further their own cause, which is to escape the Second Division. But after Melvyn Betts, the nightwatchman, had miscued an early pull to mid-wicket there was never much conviction in their batting and scraping a lead of 39 turned out to be an unexpected struggle.
There did not appear to be a lot in the pitch to cause terror to the batsman, no more than the odd irregular bounce at any rate, but the idea of putting his old county to the sword clearly put some figurative wind in Graeme Welch's sails, the former Warwickshire seamer conceding only 20 from 10 overs in the morning session and holding his form in the afternoon to finish with 5 for 53. With better luck, Munton's figures might have been better than 2 for 50 but he found compensation in Warwickshire's tendency to self-destruct, Keith Piper taking the blame when both David Hemp and Dominic Ostler, whose innings was interrupted for treatment to an elbow injury, were run out.
But if Warwickshire's struggle was unforeseen, it was certainly no more unexpected than Derbyshire's progress to 170 before the home side managed to take a wicket, Michael Di Venuto hitting 17 fours as he completed only his second century of a disappointing season.Reuse content