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Devon defended

Cricket: Essex 353-7 dec Derbyshire 215-3
As a match badly disrupted by the weather advanced uneventfully, it was inevitable that the cricket here yesterday would be overshadowed by the simmering row over Raymond Illingworth's forthcoming book, in whichDerbyshire are now heavily involved. The chairman of selectors destroyed Devon Malcolm's confidence once. Now, it seems, he is prepared to do so all over again and Malcolm's county are not happy about it.

Derbyshire's formal protest to the Test and County Cricket Board has been reinforced by strong words from Mike Horton, the county chairman. Horton interrupted a business trip to Florida to send a fax to Lord's demanding that the board insist on "a retraction and apology" from Illingworth over his remarks about Malcolm in the book - "or sack him".

It is not the first time Derbyshire have had a run-in with the TCCB over Malcolm. In 1991 they took exception to Mickey Stewart, then England manager, giving private coaching to their fast bowler. They were fined pounds 750 and may feel the board owes them a fairer hearing this time.

Malcolm, more than most, is a player whose effectiveness depends on self-confidence and to be described by Illingworth as lacking "any trace of the fight or spunk we were entitled to expect" is hardly likely to promote a warm inner glow.

Malcolm, who bowled Derbyshire to victory by returning his best figures for the county at Cardiff last week before the storm broke, made a minor contribution to this match, bowling a mere five overs as Essex added 128 to the score at tea on Thursday, after which four sessions were lost to the weather.

The seamer Andrew Harris removed the threat of the Australian all-rounder Stuart Law, aided by a spectacular catch behind the wicket, but Essex's equilibrium was restored by a standard 51 between Paul Pritchard, their captain, and Paul Grayson before the former spooned a catch to backward point. Grayson was then brilliantly taken at slip by Chris Adams but a sparky, unbeaten 46 from Robert Rollins enabled maximum batting points to be claimed in time for a declaration before lunch.

As Derbyshire began their response, Adrian Rollins squandered a chance to upstage his brother by lofting Peter Such to mid-on, the catch taken by Neil Williams, who also dismissed Kim Barnett, the Derbyshire captain. Adams then progressed to 58 before he was undone by a shooter from Mark Ilott.