Derbys incensed by Tredwell inclusion
Derbyshire 200 and 30 for 1 need another 374 to beat Kent 261 and 342 for 8 dec. (Northeast 165, Nash 62)
Derbyshire are not happy, not by a long way. And the suddenly vulnerable second division leaders will be fuming all over again by tomorrow night if England spinner James Tredwell bowls promotion rivals Kent to a vital victory here.
The visitors were shocked to learn just 45 minutes before play resumed this morning that, contrary to emails sent by the ECB to both teams and the umpires ahead of this game, vastly experienced campaigner Tredwell was being allowed to replace fellow off-spinner Adam Riley in the home side at the halfway stage of this highly significant match.
"They told us Tredwell could come in if he didn't play at Trent Bridge and we have got an email to that effect," explained Derbyshire's head coach Karl Krikken. "He played in that game, so from half past two yesterday we thought he wasn't going to play here. At a quarter to 10 in the morning, I found out from the umpires that he was able to play.
"The rules were set at the start of the game but it's like saying 'it doesn't matter, let's tear that up and he can play anyway'. It's wrong, it's totally and utterly wrong. I feel sorry for the Derbyshire supporters and for the players because they have worked their knackers off to get into this position and you look to play a fair game and then don't get it.
"Kent want to do their best so they will try to push every rule they can, but it's totally wrong. It's nonsense. It's moving the goalposts."
The principle of England players leaving and joining Championship matches on days one and two is now firmly established, even though it goes against the grain for those traditionalists who insist cricket is an 11-a-side game, full stop. But it was the ECB's change of mind, under the "exceptional circumstances" rule mentioned in the competition regulations, that so annoyed Derbyshire.
Because the ODI at Trent Bridge was won by South Africa with more than 15 overs to spare, the Board accepted Kent's request to release Tredwell after all - on the basis he would have plenty of time to travel to Canterbury from Nottingham last night. And they are not at all apologetic about the revised decision, seeing it as a sign of their flexibility and desire to let county cricket supporters watch the best players in action whenever possible.
"We operate on the basis that England players should be made available for their counties so long as there are no fitness or workload issues," an ECB spokesman said.
Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford added: "It is crucial that there is a spirit of co-operation between the counties and the ECB, and in particular concerning England players if we are to continue to support Team England."
The bottom line here, of course, is that a 20-year-old spinner, Riley, playing only his 13th first-class match, has been replaced by a 30-year-old, Tredwell, who has taken 332 wickets at this level.
Tredwell warmed up for tomorrow's task by bowling five maidens tonight, having earlier played a part in the one wicket to fall after Derbyshire had been set a mighty 404 to win. When Wayne Madsen edged Mark Davies, Darren Stevens parried the chance at third slip for Tredwell, at second, to hold the rebound.
Whatever happens on the final day, Derbyshire will go into next week's final round of matches as second division leaders. But having been top of the table almost all season, the gap is now far too small for their comfort. Yorkshire have already won so defeat tomorrow would leave them just one point clear - with Kent only a further five points back in third spot.
It is a great pity, though, that this bit of a rumpus over Tredwell's introduction took some of the shine off a terrific Kent batting performance which saw Sam Northeast, the highly talented 22-year-old opener, make a championship best 165.
This was the former England Under 19 batsman's sixth first-class hundred overall and his third of what has turned out to be a coming of age season.
Northeast has taken a little longer to develop than had seemed likely when he was scoring centuries for fun as a schoolboy and making the Harrow 1st XI as a 14-year-old. But he batted beautifully for six hours here without giving a chance, striking 14 fours and depositing spinners Wes Durston and David Wainwright for one six apiece.
Having taken three wickets, for one run, just before close of play yesterday, Derbyshire appeared to be right back in this match with Kent only 120 ahead. But Northeast and Nash combined brilliantly to deflate the visitors during a stand of 137. Then Northeast twisted the knife by adding 123 alongside Mike Powell before finally upper-cutting a catch to third man.
Derbyshire had endured more than enough for one day. But they will be back to fight again in the morning.