Jones declares he is still a class act

Derbyshire 321 and 383-2 dec Middlesex 165 and 157-6
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The Independent Online
Several Derbyshire players will remember this game with satisfaction, though the memories of Andrew Harris may remain brightest. Dean Jones and even Chris Adams have had big moments on bigger stages, but Harris, 23 this week, is just beginning to demand attention. Friday and the back- end of yesterday belonged to him, while Adams, Jones and Adrian Rollins ruled in between.

At the start of the game, between two well-placed teams, only two points and two rungs on the Championship ladder separated them. But Derbyshire have a mighty momentum at present, having beaten Hampshire in their previous Championship match and then humiliated the Indian tourists, and they have controlled this game ever since Adams and Kim Barnett put on 158 for the second wicket on Thursday.

Even Phil Tufnell's deserved five-wicket haul was overshadowed by the performance of the brisk seamer Harris, whose six for 43 on Friday was comfortably a career best. Derbyshire, 118 for one overnight, began yesterday 274 in the lead.

Derbyshire knew from the outset that they must press on swiftly to accumulate a sufficient mountain of runs while leaving time to hack away at the visitors. More than 500 in more than four sessions might have been skipper Jones's equation. As it was, Derbyshire found batting so easy that his calculations were as fine-tuned as he could have wished, and shortly after lunch Mike Gatting was bowling middle-aged off-breaks to him in an attempt to assist the mathematics. The first batsman to show the necessary early pugnacity was Rollins, tall and powerfully built, who wafted Tufnell and seamer Ricky Fay around for an hour before Fay's successor, Angus Fraser, induced a snick to slip. John Carr made a tricky low catch look comically casual.

Adams and Jones then began piling up the runs, punching towards an afternoon declaration. Jones, of course, is still one of the world's great batsmen, even on a blustery day at Derby when most of the townsfolk had opted to keep their eyes on Wembley. And Adams has hit a rich vein of runs. This compact, hard-hitting batsman made 239 in that previous Championship game at Southampton, and yesterday became the first Derbyshire player since John Morris in 1990 to score a century in both innings.

The declaration moment was neatly decided. Five minutes before the Wembley kick-off, Jones pushed a single for his century and immediately declared, asking Middlesex to make an absurd 540.

Enter Harris once more. He is tall, upright and youthfully lean, and he is building towards a mature pace. He bowls a full length, asking the ball to make its contribution in seam and swing, and one can almost hear a cheeky ambition forming in his mind: to make the batsman want to get to the other end, to face the old man Devon Malcolm instead.

He immediately persuaded Jason Harrison to nick a leg-side ball to Karl Krikken, Gatting played wide of his body and dragged the ball on to his stumps and Paul Weekes, after a more stubborn knock, snicked behind. With Harris's young colleague Kevin Dean and Barnett's occasional leg breaks also corroding Middlesex, nothing will stop Derby except a Monday monsoon.

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