Thursday, 25 September 2014
Derbyshire v Leicestershire day 3
It was another memorable day. Ben Slater (left) duly completed his second century of the match to join a small and select band to have done so, while also cementing a solid-looking average of 46 for the summer. Onwards and upwards for young Ben, I think.
He was a little edgy as the century approached and survived a loud appeal for caught behind on 99, but the century came from an edge to third man and the relief washed over the ground.
Then we were treated to a century of sublime quality by Cheteshwar Pujara, who only lifted the ball once (for six, over mid-wicket) and played a range of shots that hasn't been seen in these parts since the halcyon days of Azharuddin.
It was wonderful. There were rapier-like cuts, on drives full of wristy, eastern promise, pulls that reached the fence before anyone moved...and the cover drives....one so perfectly bisected the two fielders that he could scarce have done better had he used a protractor before playing it. Another was a thing of such beauty that people around me gasped. It was a privilege to see such a player in our colours.
He stays admirably still at the crease and the only movement is a tap, then another of the bat. Pujara has so much time and when he decides the ball is fractionally short, or wide, or over-pitched he dismisses it from his presence with a flourish. The field was moved to plug gaps, yet the next shot went to where the man was moved from. A century looked likely from the moment he took guard and when it came it was to a standing ovation. If we can get him for next summer there is such a treat in store.
Wes Durston played an extraordinary innings and hit eight fours in his forty. His timing was as crisp as ever and he even played a 'draw' stroke that was popular in Edwardian times at one point, playing the ball to square leg under a raised front leg to the bemusement and amusement of the opposition and crowd simultaneously. Anyone watching could have handled another half an hour of Wes and 'Puj' in full flight.
Yet when Leicestershire batted it was a different game. They are a club in crisis and it showed, though nothing should be taken from Derbyshire. The Footitt flyer ran in from the City end and simply blew them away. Greg Smith was bowled by one that sent a stump cartwheeling and he was simply too fast for them. Dan Redfern was leg before to complete a miserable return and the visitors showed little stomach for a fight.
Later, when I got home, I found that the BBC Sports team had announced their County Championship team of the year and Footitt wasn't in it. Seriously, these people are paid as experts? He'd be in mine as one of the first names on the list.
The Derbyshire pace attack was impressive and backed up by a field in which Harvey Hosein again impressed. He made several awkward takes look easy and his footwork is so good that he takes balls down leg side without the need to dive that earns applause from supporters. Those in the know appreciate that good footwork negates the need to do that and Hosein has a very good future ahead of him.
One final point. The presence of hundreds of school children today added an atmosphere that I have not known before at Derby, especially for an end of season game. They were quite brilliant, chanting "Derby" and cheering every run, especially by Pujara. The club is to be congratulated on the signing and the links they have fostered with the community. I hope that they strengthen next season.
An end of season round up will come over the weekend, but Derbyshire have made great strides this summer, after a slow start. Back them and we are set for a fine future, on and off the field.
In closing, thanks to everyone whose company I shared and thoroughly enjoyed today. Your chat made a great day even better and I look forward to seeing you all again next summer - and hearing from you over the winter.
Postscript - I stood next to Ben Cotton, chatting this evening after the game...by crikey, he's big! In Scotland they call things smaller than him mountains...