Friday, 20 April 2018

Derbyshire v Middlesex day one

Derbyshire 265 (Viljoen 60 not, Madsen 47, Harris 4-68)

Middlesex 45-3

A glorious sunny day greeted the arrival of the first-class season at the 3aaa County Ground in Derby and a decent crowd arrived to witness it. A good number will have come in on the back of the 'bring  friend free' offer that was extended to county members, but I'd like to think a few might have come along, as will be the case through the summer, to show support for a form of the game that the English Cricket Board seems intent on marginalising.

Derbyshire got through to lunch pretty well, at 117-3, after Middlesex opted to bowl. It was a decision that may have taken some thought, but there was movement for the seamers and one or two balls lifted from around a length. It was a wicket that kept the bowlers interested as the day progressed and offered lateral movement; similarly, it was one on which a batsman was never truly 'in'.

Luis Reece and Ben Slater opened, Billy Godleman having opted for a middle order berth this year. The two looked pretty comfortable, until Reece departed to a stunning, one-handed catch by Ollie Rayner at second slip, the first of four that he took. That brought in Wayne Madsen, restored to his (and my) preferred position of number three. We were soon being treated to trademark drives and though there were a few alarms, he survived through to the interval on an unbeaten 46.

Not so his partners. Ben Slater batted well, before a miscalculation on line saw him bowled, while Alex Hughes, after a few nice shots, was caught behind off the final delivery of the session, from the bowling of Cartwright.

Still 117-3 at the interval was better than most other sides batting first, at a traditionally tricky time of year. There was a need for a partnership, though, as the players came out for the afternoon session.

It was not to be. The consensus was that 250 was a score with which we could be fairly happy, but the departures in quick succession of Godleman (17) and Madsen (47) left a lengthy-looking tail dangerously exposed with the county at 143-5.

Gary Wilson gave it away with a half-hearted attempt at a pull that lobbed up to mid-wicket  and a decent lunch position had evaporated in the space of half an hour.

Thereafter the position improved, thanks to a dogged innings by Tony Palladino and one of impressive quality from Hardus Viljoen. Those of us with concerns over the tail end batting were heartened to see the giant South African go to his fifty with three sixes, a huge one over mid wicket sandwiched between two effortless drives.

There was a fourth six before the end came quickly and Derbyshire's mood was lightened by these late order runs, obvious from their demeanour as they came on to the field. Ravi Rampaul took the new ball and and shaped it beautifully, getting Holden caught behind as he ran one across, after swinging the previous ones into him.His initial spell for the county was an impressive one.

Viljoen and Olivier worked up good pace, but the line was often wanting. Both suggested though, when the line is adjusted, that the wickets will come, plenty of balls leaving the batsmen groping.and a couple of edges falling short of the slips, who could perhaps have been up a yard or two with the batsmen not assaying too many aggressive strokes.

It was a spell of cricket that hinted at good times to come. Only twenty runs came from the bat in the first twenty overs, a good few of them from the edge of the bat and in stark contrast to an innings in which Derbyshire scored at four an over. Olivier took his first wicket for us, courtesy of a sharp catch from Matt Critchley at slip, while Viljoen adjusted his line and, bowling a fuller length, had the Australian, Cartwright, beautifully held at second slip by Alex Hughes.

All in all? A very encouraging day's work. There is more to to do tomorrow to get through the Middlesex batting, but we are ahead at the end of day one.

And that's against what most considered the likely champions this summer.

Not bad at all..


  1. As you say a very encouraging day not been able to make it today and i am playing tomorrow but will be hoping we can make our way through what looks like a fairly deep batting order...

  2. Further to my earlier comment today about the interest in Pakistan players for our other overseas, there is a mention of Derbyshire being interested in Yasir Shah or Shadab Khan in the following Cricinfo article.,-england-tests


  3. Promising start for Derbyshire. Less so for my fantasy team as Markram joins Denly in bagging a pair!


  4. Excellent days cricket. Good weather and a pitch that seemed to provide enough for batsmen and bowlers who applied themselves.

    As much as I like Madsen back at 3, I can't work out why Godleman went in at 5 - the captain at 4 would make more sense to me, with Hughes at 5. Critchley also feels too low at 7, he's going to get stranded and didn't look comfortable with the 147/6 scenario we were in and having to marshall the tail. Wilson is going to have to bat far better than he did today to justify his place in the side with 2 stronger glovemen in the squad.

    The bowling looks very threatening - it remains to be seen how they go with an older ball but we should be able to keep the pressure on all through the innings. Here's hoping they all stay fit!

  5. Godleman at 5 boggles my mind it really does. Godleman and Slater should open. Reece should be at 4 if Madsen wants 3. Wilson under pressure already. I did not like the look of that shot.

  6. Excellent day for the glass half full tendency, with assertive but mostly not overly aggressive Derbyshire batting in challenging conditions against a good attack (even allowing for the absence after his first spell of Roland-Jones), and bowling that constantly asked questions, even if Viljoen and Olivier didn't quite get length or line right. Middlesex still have two or three very solid batsmen to come and could quite easily get themselves back into the match, but a couple of wickets early on and Derbyshire will have a very firm grip of the game.

    One possible problem for us that no-one seems to have commented on was the departure from the field of Billy Godleman a few overs from the end, limping very heavily and almost having to pull himself up the dressing room steps. I didn't see anything happening to him, but it didn't look great for his part in the rest of the match. Viljoen was a revelation, as I'd seen nothing last year that suggested he could bat as well as this, and if he can repeat it perhaps makes our tail look less fragile than I've feared, although Davis, Rampaul and Olivier at 9,10, and 11 still looks like a walking bonus point. I agree with comments about the balance of the batting line up, although Godleman has actually scored a couple of centuries on the few occasions he's batted down the order. Hughes and Critchley both sold their wickets cheaply, and neither looked particularly comfortable in their positions. Wilson just looks out of touch, but if Godleman is badly injured, his presence as vice-captain might be welcome.


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