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David Lloyd at West End
May 12, 2012
Derbyshire 403 for 9 (Durston 121, Redfern 133) drew with Hampshire 352 for 8 (Adams 122, Shafayat 93)
Derbyshire are the longest-serving second division outfit. It is not a great claim to fame, admittedly - and should 12 seasons out of the top tier turn into 13 once this campaign is done and dusted then they may just look back on today and think: "If only..."
If only Hampshire had agreed to engineer a run chase amounting to something like 240 off 70 overs (a suggestion which had a miniscule chance of being accepted and probably received an LOL text response). Or, perhaps even, if only Derbyshire had been really brave and gone along with Hampshire's original proposal (believed to be for a double forfeiture and the pursuit of 353 from 96 overs).
As it was, no deal could be done and spectators had to settle for watching a less than enthralling battle for bonus points. Given that the first two days of this match were lost to rain, a draw had long been the likeliest outcome but events at Bristol, with Yorkshire prepared to try to hunt down 400, and then succeeding in style, showed that where there is a will there is sometimes a way.
Not to say the final day here was completely without interest. With Kabir Ali and James Tomlinson playing their first championship matches of the season after suffering injuries on the warm-up tour of Barbados, Hampshire's new-ball attack had a sharp cutting edge.
Unlike Derbyshire's seamers 24 hours earlier, the pair barely wasted a delivery for half an hour or so and they put the visitors into a bit of difficulty at 37 for three. Just for a while there was the possibility of a stunning collapse - and had Liam Dawson, the leading slip catcher in the country so far this season, held a chance offered by Wes Durston, off Sean Ervine, with the total 73 then fantasy just might have become fact.
Instead, Durston settled into one of those blockbusting innings which has helped to revive a professional career that appeared dead and buried when Somerset released him in 2009. With Dan Redfern providing less belligerent but splendidly staunch support, Derbyshire's ship was not only righted but also set on a serene, full steam ahead course. Between them the pair added 178 for the fourth wicket and, quite rightly, both scored centuries.
Durston's hundred was packed with ferocious blows. His second 50 took only 32 balls and by the time he was bowled off stump, by Ervine, for 121 he had struck five sixes as well as 16 fours. No-one suffered more than Dawson, the fielder who dropped him on 37, with all but one of Durston's sixes coming off the left-arm spinner's bowling.
With Redfern playing with more and more confidence, it would be surprising if at least some of those in the Derbyshire dressing-room were not wishing they could turn the clock back a few hours in order to reconsider Hampshire's original offer.
It would be silly, of course, to state with any degree of certainty that events would have followed the same course had the visitors been chasing a win, rather than batting under minimal pressure. And Hampshire could have defended once the total started to grow, instead of searching relentlessly for wickets.
Whatever the ins and outs, though, when Derbyshire reached 353 they were only seven wickets down and 22 overs remained.
Redfern had gone by then, though not before bettering the 110 he made against Northants during the first match of the season. The 22-year-old left-hander walked away with a new career-best of 133 but just think how much more satisfaction he would have gained from scoring those runs in a winning cause.
Derbyshire's view was that never in the club's history have they chased as many as 353 to win a game - and 10 points in the bag are not to be sneezed at. But with Yorkshire winning they have lost their outright lead at the top of the table.
As for Hampshire, captain Jimmy Adams admitted to "a frustrating day." And he added: "I think both sides were keen for a game but unfortunately what we thought might be fair was different to what they thought was fair so we couldn't come to an agreement. I'll keep the negotiations quiet but I think they wanted a shorter chase than we did."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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