Jones holds firm

Surrey 477 and 199-2 Derbyshire 469
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Dean Jones's appointment as the captain of Derbyshire may have raised one or two eye-brows before the season began, but if yesterday's performance at the Oval is anything to go by it may prove a master-stroke.

Jones has a reputation as one of the finest limited-overs batsmen in the world. A stylist who cares little for established principles. Here, though, he gave the lie to all of that and set the perfect example to his team as they chased down an imposing target.

Jones, 61 overnight, only added 15 runs to his score before nibbling at a wide one from his fellow Australian Brendon Julian, but his intentions could not have been made clearer to his team-mates. He had faced 56 balls for his extra 15, and he looked ready to bat all weekend.

Earlier, the promising John Owen had fallen to the fourth ball of the day without adding to Friday's 54, but Colin Wells carried on his captain's good work, despite needing a runner after lunch, having injured his foot in a collision with the Surrey wicketkeeper, Graham Kersey.

The runner was Jones himself, testimony to his leadership. The only blot on his day came when Karl Krikken clipped a ball tomidwicket. Jones called for a fourth run but Alec Stewart's return was right over the stumps and Krikken was a yard short.

Wells missed out on a deserved century, caught brilliantly one-handed low down at cover by Adam Hollioake, but Paul Aldred added useful runs at the end to boost Derbyshire's total.

When Surrey batted again, Mark Butcher posted his fifth half-century in seven championship innings. However, he and Darren Bicknell departed in quick succession after putting on 92 for the first wicket.

That brought Stewart and Graham Thorpe together and both batted beautifully in an unbroken stand worth 99, matching each other stroke for stroke. While this game may still be heading for a draw, Stewart has probably done enough to make sure that he will be heading for Edgbaston on Thursday rather than Middlesbrough.