Derbyshire v Somerset at Derby on 21st to 24th June: LV= County Championship: Division 1
By John Brown
This eagerly-anticipated match with Somerset, who had not visited the County ground since 2007, was seen as a crucial one, one which was likely to have a bearing on the result of the relegation battle at the end of the season.
Somerset won the toss and, as so often these days, asked Derbyshire to take first innings. Despite the loss of a wicket in the sixth over, Chesney Hughes and Wayne Madsen looked to be taking Derbyshire to a position of some security as they added 52 together for the second wicket.
The pitch was always bowler-friendly and every batsman found batting a struggle: Madsen was dismissed soon after completing his sixth championship fifty of the season, and the middle-order all found the bounce and movement off the pitch a handful. At 173 for seven, there were even doubts as to whether Derbyshire would gain a single batting point. Richard Johnson and Tony Palladino, back after a seven-week break for injury, came together and worked really hard as they put on 82 for the eighth wicket.
Palladino, the more ambitious of the two, was well caught at slip for an invaluable 49 (67 balls), and Johnson followed for an equally important 56 from 135 balls. It was felt that the final score of 266 might well prove to have been a challenging total on this pitch, especially after it had enlivened by rain.
Somerset saw out the final seven overs of the day (16 for no wicket), and they had a quick flurry of runs on the second morning before rain arrived after twenty-five minutes (48 for 0). After just over half-an-hour, play continued for another fifty minutes when more rain brought the players in for an early lunch with Nick Compton having been dismissed by Palladino.
The afternoon session was definitely Derbyshire’s as five wickets fell, three of them to Palladino, two to Tim Groenewald, and Derbyshire hopes were high as the day finished on 180 for six. Trego was dropped when he had scored only one, but he survived until the next morning, partly as a result of more rain falling at 6.30pm.
Only 23.3 overs were possible on the third day, during which time Somerset finished their first innings on 216 giving Derbyshire a first-innings lead of fifty. Palladinio and Groenewald, finished with five wickets each, quite a rare event, the last time by Derbyshire bowlers when AJ Harris and Paul Aldred had taken five each in 1999 against the same opponents on the same ground.
Derbyshire had reached 36 for two when the umpires called play off for the day because of bad light even though there were still eighteen overs to bowl. Many people were surprised at the decision, and there were feelings that it might have prevented a good finish being set up on the final day.
Such anxieties were soon allayed, however, as Somerset’s bowlers made life very awkward for Derbyshire: there was plenty of movement in the air and off the pitch as well as some occasional eccentric bounce. Derbyshire’s overnight score soon became 64 for seven and only a nine-over partnership of 26 between Durston and Palladino gave the innings any substance at all. The all out total of 94 was disappointing, but there was still belief that Derbyshire’s bowlers could apply enough pressure to cause Somerset some embarrassment.
Somerset’s international opening pair of Trescothick and Compton started quickly, and had reached thirty in only five overs before lunch. Unusually Compton was in a more aggressive mood than his senior partner and he reached his fifty from 71 balls with eight fours and a six. They had reached sixty before Trescothick was superbly caught by Madsen high above his head off Jon Clare.
Clare went on to bowl what was probably his best spell of the season thus far: in eight overs he took five wickets for 29, the third Derbyshire player to achieve this feat in the same match. Although Groenewald took one more wicket, Somerset went on to win by four wickets, and Derbyshire were left to rue the odd dropped catch or indiscreet shot. It had been a fascinating match, swinging back and forth, but it was one of those matches which left the losers thinking of the might-have-beens or if-onlies.
Derbyshire 266 (86.2 overs) (RM Johnson 56, WL Madsen 50, AP Palladino 49, CF Hughes 25, JL Clare 20; J Overton 3 for 35, AC Thomas 3 for 54, SP Kirby 2 for 61)
94 (30.2 overs) (BA Godleman 24, WJ Durston 20; SP Kirby 4 for 18, CAJ Meschede 3 for 17)
Somerset 216 (71.3 overs) (ME Trescothick 50, JC Hildreth 36, PD Trego 28, D Elgar 26; TD Groenewald 5 for 30, AP Palladino 5 for 97)
145 for 5 (24 overs) (NRD Compton 56, ME Trescothick 21; JL Clare 5 for 29)
Derbyshire (5 points) lost to Somerset (20) by four wickets
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