The prospect of more corporate guests in the marquees is surely the reason, and these are people designated to be working, who are not going to give up a Saturday just for a game of cricket. Saturday is for true cricket lovers, the weekday workers, schoolchildren and club members. Without them county cricket will be played to groups of suits in tents.
To roll out bland pitches in an attempt to guarantee four days' play - not that anything can be guaranteed in this sport - would reintroduce the contrivance of negotiated declarations, so the solution is admittedly hard to see.
Not that Derby has too much truck with marquees. Yesterday's play was as workmanlike as the setting. At the start, Gloucestershire were six down and just 38 ahead. The team, in spite of a morale-boosting demolition of Warwickshire a week ago, are floundering, and the presence of Courtney Walsh and Mark Alleyne, high in the national bowling averages, is more than offset by a lower batting-point tally than any other county.
Derbyshire, however, are confident of a high placing. On Friday evening a four-wicket burst by Dominic Cork ended Gloucestershire's hopes of setting a proper target. Yesterday morning the Test bowler retired with a bruised toe, while two England discards cleared away the tail. Phil DeFreitas added four wickets to his five in the first innings, bowling a sustained spell from the pavilion end, while Devon Malcolm's explosive yorker was too much for night watchman Jonathan Lewis.
DeFreitas was on a hat-trick after Jack Russell clipped him to leg slip and Walsh missed an airy drive, but Mike Smith, nursing an injured back and batting with Andrew Symonds as his runner, kept him at bay. The end was delayed for Alleyne to reach 50 before Karl Krikken claimed Smith's stumping. It seemed likely that his runner was the wandering one. When Derby batted, the loss of three wickets, two to successive Lewis balls, was careless but a mere detail - they pocketed 23 points by mid-afternoon.Reuse content