Champions prey on 20 minutes of madness
Warwickshire 14 for 0 trail Derbyshire 226 (Palladino 68, Patel 3-37, Wright 3-48) by 212 runs
It says something about the spring in Derbyshire's step as they begin life as a Division One county that 226 all out after being put in by the County Champions left them feeling less that they had fared respectably well than that they might have done a little better.
Having battled through a tough morning, one notable for Chris Wright, Warwickshire's leading wicket-taker last summer, enhancing the good impression he made in the curtain-raiser against the MCC in Abu-Dhabi, Derbyshire were looking well set for a solid afternoon after Dan Redfern's aggressive hitting had begun to unsettle the home side's plans.
Redfern knocked the county debutant, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, out of the attack and even ruffled Wright for an over or two but then came what Karl Krikken, Derbyshire's head coach, described as "a mad 20 minutes" in which four wickets fell for 12 runs in the face of Jeetan Patel's off-spin, two of which he was particularly unimpressed with as Redfern took a swing and missed a straight ball and Ross Whitely ended up on the seat of his pants, run out when Chesney Hughes changed his mind about a single to backward point.
"We played really well at the start to get through three down for a hundred but unfortunately from there we had a mad 20 minutes where we lost four wickets and from there we were always fighting," their coach, Karl Krikken said. "The guys down the order pulled out the stops to get us to 226 but we would have liked 50 more. It is a learning curve but whether you are playing against First Division or Second Division opponents that passage of play where we lost the wickets was poor."
Nonetheless, Derbyshire were aware that life among the elite would be a challenge with little room for error and this was a tough introduction, even against a Warwickshire side lacking Boyd Rankin and Keith Barker through injury and with Chris Woakes rested. Then again, Krikken agreed that there was no harm in knowing the scale of the challenge right from the off.
He follows the lead of Chris Grant, the millionaire former stockbroker under whose guidance as chairman the Peakites have risen above their downtrodden recent past, and whose presence at Edgbaston was a challenge in itself, two days after undergoing surgery for a broken toe suffered in a collision with a door on the last day of Derbyshire's pre-season trip to Barbados. Heavily dosed with painkillers, Grant might not viewed the world quite so sharply as usual but he will have been no less delighted for that when the ninth-wicket pairing of Tony Palladino and Mark Turner secured Derbyshire's first bonus point of their new status.
Their partnership, the highest of the innings after Palladino had profitably attacked the second new ball, gave Derbyshire's total a healthy respectability on a pitch that was a little too slow for fluent strokeplay and just zippy enough when the ball was new to give the bowlers something to work with. Palladino, whose highlights included a four and a six off consecutive balls against Hannon-Dalby, walked off with 68, his highest Championship score.
It tempered Warwickshire's earlier bullishness. Wright, their leading wicket-taker of last season, had been handed his county cap (as well as a new four-year contract) and had responded to the arrival of England head coach Andy Flower and national selector Geoff Miller by removing both Derbyshire openers in an 11-over spell that cost only 15 runs.
Hannon-Dalby, the former Yorkshire seamer, claimed his first Warwickshire wicket early in the afternoon, yet Derbyshire, despite the slump that so dismayed Krikken, kept fighting back.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, on his Derbyshire debut, did not achieve much beyond hanging around for 34 overs but first Wes Durston, then Redfern and Hughes, seized the initiative before Palladino cut loose. Warwickshire's response will determine to what extent 226 is below par, if at all.