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Les Smith at Headlingley
April 30, 2013
Yorkshire 164 for 1 (Root 75*) trail Derbyshire 475 (Hughes 270*) by 311 runs
In 2012 Chesney Hughes scored 28 County Championship runs for Derbyshire. In three innings this season he has totalled 24 batting at No. 6 and No. 7. This afternoon, having been asked to open the innings in potentially difficult conditions yesterday morning, he came within four runs of the best first-class score in Derbyshire's history.
Had the tail managed to be more adhesive, or indeed if Shivnarine Chanderpaul had stuck around on the first day, Hughes would surely have broken a record set in 1896. He was dropped at the wicket on 70, but never at any other point looked anything other than assured, and he carried his bat for 270.
So George Davidson, a coal miner's son from Brimington, retains the Derbyshire record. He was a handy cricketer: 5,546 runs, 621 wickets, and the double in 1895. Those statistics would no doubt be a good deal more impressive had he not died at the age of 32. The record which Hughes wasn't quite able to grab from him was set against Lancashire at Old Trafford.
Hughes' upbringing could not be further from a mining village in Derbyshire. He was born on Anguilla in the Leeward Islands, and has played for West Indies Under 19. When he was in his teens he moved himself to Fleetwood in Lancashire to play as an amateur, and there he was brought to Derbyshire's attention. He's recently qualified for England, and Test Selector James Whittaker was on hand to witness his innings. He's only recently turned 22, but this was a mature, controlled knock. His defence and judgement of line are very sound, and when he hits the ball, he hits it very hard, although he reached his 200 with an undemonstrative nudge off his hip for a single.
Hughes received some support from Tom Poynton and Tony Palladino as he closed in on George Davidson's record, but when last man Tim Groenewald found himself facing the final ball of an Adil Rashid over before he had scored, there was a sense of inevitability about what would happen, and it did. He was lbw. If Hughes was disappointed, the huge smile on his face as he left the field belied it.
He's an articulate and humble man, and after close of play he paid tribute to the support he has received from Shivnarine Chanderpaul and his fellow Anguillan Cardigan Connor "in cricket and in life". He had Chanderpaul in the dressing room, and Connor on the end of a phone, whenever he wasn't actually tormenting Yorkshire in the middle.
"I see myself as a middle order batsman", he said. "But I just want to play and I'm happy to play anywhere." He also acknowledged the respect he had been shown by the Yorkshire players, every one of whom shook his hand as he left the field. "Batting long is exhausting physically and mentally", he added. "But I managed to get through it and I'm delighted".
The opening 45 overs of the Yorkshire innings held few alarms for the home side on a flattening pitch, so it came as something of a surprise when Adam Lyth edged Groenewald to second slip. Lyth was in need of a score after a poor run, and he got 69 with eleven boundaries, playing particularly powerfully through the off side on the front foot. In contrast to Lyth, Joe Root has not wanted for runs, and his 75 not out today takes him to over 300 in his last three innings.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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