Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day 4 - batsmen the only winners

Derbyshire 444 and 260-2 (Hughes 137 not, Rutherford 78)

Gloucestershire 563

Match drawn

At lunchtime yesterday, I exchanged texts with a good friend as he commented on Liam Norwell scoring a century as night watchman.

'You could play this over seven days and still not get a result' was my reply. And so it came to pass, as Derbyshire's batsmen saw out the day with ease and with plenty in the tank. It was dull cricket for me, as is any game where the battle between bat and ball is not an even one. I am sure that Chesney Hughes and Wayne Madsen were trying to talk the groundsman into rolling it up and into the back of their cars by the end, having emerged from the game with early season averages of 233 and 177 respectively...

Top marks to Chesney, who seized the opportunity to score heavily with conditions in his favour. The old Nottinghamshire batsman, George Gunn, always used to urge team mates to 'drink at the well' on such days, well aware that on another the ball would be zipping around to his detriment. He did and set his stall out for the duration. I hope he builds on an excellent effort here, as that's a sizeable amount towards a thousand runs, in only the first game.

One has to spare a thought for Ben Slater, run out at the non-striker's end on a day when he must have fancied a long knock himself. His day will come, but the early wicket came to naught with Hamish Rutherford adding 174 with Hughes in making 78 himself.

With conditions in their favour, the batsmen did all they could and batted on and on. There have been plenty of examples in the not too distant past when we didn't and we must be glad of that and happy to praise a job well done. It was professional by the batsmen, two solid efforts that give optimism for the season ahead.

The bowlers will hope to tighten up though. Even on a good batting track, one would hope for good lines and length to make batsmen work and too often we failed to do that. I have no doubt that another day will see improvement, but we could have had Lillee, Hadlee, Warne and Murali in the attack in this game and still got nowhere fast.

'A big change from my day', said Edwin Smith when I chatted to him tonight. They used to have three spinners in the side at Bristol and would have been chafing at the bit by the end of day two.

On here, they might have had to wait until day nine...

A good effort by Derbyshire today, but wickets like that will kill the game stone dead.

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