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Jon Culley at Derby
April 25, 2013
Nottinghamshire 325 for 5 (Taylor 67*, Cowan 59, Hales 56) lead Derbyshire 256 by 69 runs
Nottinghamshire's innings in one way resembles a series of missed opportunities, given that four of their top five batsmen fell around the half-century mark - and another should have done. Collectively, though, it adds up to a chance to put more strain on the confidence of promoted Derbyshire, whose introduction to the first division is teaching them quickly that survival will be a hard-won prize.
In some respects, Derbyshire did not do too badly. The pitch, tricky for batsmen on the opening day, settled into one that played well, with good pace and carry, yet Derbyshire's bowlers for the most part kept their lines. Nottinghamshire's batting is as well-equipped as any to exploit favourable conditions, so to have allowed the scoring rate to creep only rarely above three per over was a good effort.
It was undermined by errors in the field. Two catches went down at first slip and an easy run-out went begging when James Taylor, pushing to cover, stumbled halfway down the track after Samit Patel sent him back only for Billy Godleman, taking aim from five yards as he ran in, to miss the stumps.
In terms of runs, the catches, both spilled by Wes Durston, were not especially expensive. Michael Lumb scored only 23 more after his escape, Patel 25. But these things add up psychologically. The extent of the damage done by Taylor's let-off on 41 is still to be determined.
Taylor, under pressure to prove himself after a somewhat disappointing first year with Nottinghamshire, was the third batsman to pass fifty, following Ed Cowan and Alex Hales.
Cowan, who will open for Australia this summer, is clearly acclimatising quickly in English conditions, which will only encourage criticism of Nottinghamshire for giving him the chance. He looked in the frame of mind to supplement his debut 61 against Middlesex with his first century for the county until he greeted David Wainwright's ugly long-hop - the spinner's first ball of the season -- with an equally poor shot.
His attempt to clear midwicket went horribly wrong and he was caught by a substitute fielder, revealed to be Greg Cork, an 18-year-old academy player and son of the former Derbyshire and England fast bowler Dominic, who was on the ground to witness the moment for Sky TV.
Nottinghamshire scarcely consider the Cowan complaints to be worthy of comment. In any case, it might be argued that England could draw a benefit if he can teach the naturally aggressive Hales a lesson or two about building an innings against the new ball. Hales, who has had a tendency to allow himself liberties, was a model of restraint, his 56 spanning 153 balls and including one sequence, lasting more than an hour, of 36 balls without a run.
Chris Read, Notts' captain, insists the change of approach has not come at his behest. "It is something he seems to have taken on himself," Read said. "He has made a name for himself in the Twenty20 format but he is another year older now and a bit wiser and I'm pleased to see him taking more responsibility at the top of the order. It can only hold him in good stead."
Hales succumbed ultimately to a decent ball from Tony Palladino, as did Lumb, who edged one from Jonathan Clare that moved away. Riki Wessels surrendered to the only cheap dismissal, driving loosely at Ross Whiteley, while Patel's was almost comical, his downfall caused by a complete loss of footing when Taylor changed his mind about a run to midwicket, leaving him flat on his backside and no chance of getting back as Shivnarine Chanderpaul threw in and the wicketkeeper broke the stumps, this time with a flourish.
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