Jones hits high

Cricket: Yorkshire 561 Derbyshire 386-4
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Yorkshire's hopes of building on their winning start to the Championship season ran into difficulties yesterday when the combination of disruptive weather and resilient opposition eroded the strong position they held when play began.

At that stage, replying to Yorkshire's first innings total of 561, Derbyshire were 128 for three, faced with the daunting prospect of adding another 284 runs merely to avoid the follow-on. It seemed an improbable outcome given the strength of Yorkshire's bowling, but optimism in the home camp reckoned without the form of Derbyshire's captain Dean Jones and the able lieutenant he found in John Owen.

The Australian's unbeaten double century was a supreme effort. The Abbeyvale Park pitch did not appear to present particular difficulties - none, at any rate, that Yorkshire's attack was able to exploit - but frequent showers posed problems of concentration. After a delayed start there were stoppages in the morning and afternoon sessions before another squall ended play an hour early, in all trimming 43 overs from the day.

Jones, however, rarely looked anything but comfortable at the crease, offering one, difficult catching chance to backward point when he was on 55. He met a loose one from Craig White with a fierce cut and Martyn Moxon could not be criticised too harshly for failing to hold on.

Jones subsequently passed up few opportunities for runs, his double hundred coming off only 259 balls, including 31 fours. But he must have drawn almost equal satisfaction from nursing Owen to his maiden century in only his ninth first-class innings.

The 24-year-old right-hander, whose progress last season, his first at Derby, was hampered by a broken hand, had a stroke of good fortune when he had made only nine. Richard Stemp, fielding at slip to Darren Gough, missed a straightforward chance when he seemed both to lose his balance and misread the flight.

But, that anxious moment behind him, Owen too looked rarely ill at ease, talked through the nervous nineties by Jones to reach 100 off 183 balls, having revealed some fine strokes among a tally of 14 fours and two sixes.

Between them, Jones and Owen added 278 in 68 overs for the fourth wicket, which Yorkshire claimed at last when Owen played on to White moments before the early close. Their efforts demanded a revision in the record books of the largest partnership for any Derbyshire wicket against Yorkshire, who will begin the last day 175 in front.