Essex v Derbyshire at Chelmsford on 13 to 16 April: LV= County Championship: Division Two
By John Brown
Derbyshire got their new LV= County Championship campaign underway against a strong Essex team with three current England players in their line-up at Chelmsford.
The hosts won the toss and chose to bat first on what was expected to be a good batting pitch. Essex started well enough before Mark Footitt, bowling with pace and accuracy, beat the defensive shot of Mickleburgh, and Tim Groenewald soon followed with the prized wicket of Cook. The score had reached 54 for two when Groenewald completed a rare hat-trick, the first of his career, as he dismissed Bopara, Greg Smith and Foakes in three balls. This quickly became 60 for seven at which point lunch was taken: it had most definitely been Derbyshire’s morning.
After the interval Groenewald and Footitt took fewer than ten overs to finish off the Essex innings, although the last pair had added a frustrating twenty. These two bowlers had taken five wickets each.
Derbyshire lost two early wickets to the consistent David Masters, but Wayne Madsen and Shivnarine Chanderpaul stayed together for twenty-three overs while 56 runs were added for the third wicket. At this point Madsen became Masters’ third victim and Napier bowled Hughes just before the Essex total was passed. Wes Durston helped Chanderpaul to add 44 runs in twelve overs, but Durston fell just before the close, taken at 139 for five.
Hopes were high that Derbyshire would build a good lead on the second day and establish a nigh-unassailable position. Masters, in particular, and Napier were in inspired form and they captured Derbyshire’s last five wickets in thirty-six minutes while only fifteen runs were added. Chanderpaul was left stranded on 75 not out.
This was very disappointing after what had promised to become a strong position for Derbyshire. Essex set about reducing the sixty-run deficit with some confidence and they did not lose their first wicket until they were only two runs short of that aim. It seemed that the heavy roller had removed any problems there might have been in the pitch as England captain Alastair Cook and Westley added 103 for the second wicket after which Bopara and Cook added a further 112 for the third wicket. At this point three wickets fell while four runs were added, but Cook and Foakes went to the close on 297 for five, a lead of 237 runs.
Derbyshire needed quick wickets on the third morning, but only one wicket fell in the pre-lunch session: now Essex led by 333 and, although spinners David Wainwright and Wes Durston finished the innings while thirty runs were scored, Derbyshire were left with a daunting 366 to win.
Even so, the pitch had played truly enough for Derbyshire supporters to believe that this target might not be beyond them. Stephen Moore and Billy Godleman started well before Tymal Mills trapped Godleman with the score on 45. Mills bowled a fast aggressive spell and took two more wickets before the close, taken with Derbyshire on 167 for five.
Something special would be needed if Derbyshire were to make a serious challenge – somebody would have to give Chanderpaul, again giving a master-class in how to play the moving ball, more support than he had received before. When Chanderpaul was seventh out with 170 runs still required, the match seemed as good as over, but Wainwright and Groenewald seemed to have other ideas. Groenewald hit Panesar for four sixes in an excellent innings of controlled aggression: he reached his fifty from only thirty-three balls, while Wainwright gave sensible support at the other end. By the time Groenewald was stumped for 52, this pair had added 89 for the eighth wicket and the Essex team were looking decidedly anxious.
The last two wickets added another twenty-seven runs, but, with nine wickets down at the scheduled lunch-time, the match continued until the last wicket fell at 1.13pm and Derbyshire had lost by 53 runs. The narrowness of the margin will have served the purpose of making some of the earlier batsmen reflect on what might have been and perhaps how they should have performed while they had their chance.
Derbyshire’s second Championship match is due to start at 11am on Sunday next when Hampshire will be the visitors.
Essex 94 (36.3 overs) (AN Cook 35; MHA Footitt 5 for 29, TD Groenewald 5 for 44) and 425 (127.4 overs) (AN Cook 181, T Westley 56, JS Foster 55*, RS Bopara 48, JC Mickleburgh 24, BT Foakes 22; TD Groenewald 3 for 63, WJ Durston 3 for 85, DJ Wainwright 2 for 84)
Derbyshire 154 (64.5 overs) (S Chanderpaul 75*, WL Madsen 30, WJ Durston 21; DD Masters 6 for 46, GR Napier 3 for 52) and 312 (84.4 overs) (S Chanderpaul 52, TD Groenewald 52, DJ Wainwright 45*, BA Godleman 38, SC Moore 32, CF Hughes 24, RM Johnson 21; GR Napier 3 for 49, TS Mills 3 for 49, MS Panesar 2 for 95)
Essex (19 points) beat Derbyshire (3) by 53 runs
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