Chanderpaul offers full value for Derbys
Derbyshire 245 for 2 (Chanderpaul 78*, Madsen 67*, Hughes 59) v Nottinghamshire
On a green pitch under a cloudy sky and with Andre Adams at last fit enough to return, there can have been little doubt in Chris Read's mind about what to do when he won the toss. Bottom-of-the-table Derbyshire, the gap between themselves and the pack beginning to yawn just a little, have yet to bowl first in a Championship match this season and if skipper Wayne Madsen had secretly dreaded what might unfold you could hardly blame him.
Yet after a day restricted by rain to 65 overs, Derbyshire are only two down. Madsen is well set alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul in an attempt to reprise their record-breaking partnership against Surrey two weeks ago and the positive signs that coach Karl Krikken took from drawing that game might be more than wishful thinking. "The last couple of weeks we have started to compete and it's not a foregone conclusion that we are going to go down," he said. "There are nine games to go and we'll keep fighting."
Much of Krikken's renewed optimism stems from Chanderpaul's enduring quality and professionalism. Approaching 39 and with pretty much every box ticked in his list of career ambitions, Chanderpaul is playing for his fourth county and his decision to sign a well-rewarded contract with a newly-promoted underdog might be open to cynical interpretation, yet Krikken could not be more insistent that Chanderpaul is giving maximum value.
He made his first century for Derbyshire against Surrey and is on course for another here. After their stand of 265 against Surrey, they have put on 145 so far here, with Chanderpaul on 78 from 88 balls, and the Nottinghamshire attack feeling a little chastened. But Krikken says Chanderpaul is about more than runs.
"He has been immense for us on the field but it is also his work-rate behind the scenes, with the youngsters in the squad in the nets," Krikken said. "He is a great cricketer and the time he spends in the nets and the way he thinks about his game is what we want our younger players to emulate.
"When you are playing on result wickets it is not easy but now we are getting some flatter wickets he is coming into his own. But he has not moaned at all because he knows we have to try to get results.
"It is important to the team, to the younger players, to see your captain and your overseas player standing up to be counted, so their form has come at the right time.
"In the earlier games we just weren't consistent enough. We were having a good session but then throwing it away with a poor one and we know we can't keep doing that. But in the last couple of weeks there have been signs that we are starting to compete."
Chanderpaul in his customary way gathered his runs with deceptive swiftness. He may not be flamboyant but his clever placement ensures steady singles and as ever he was able to gather boundaries through timing rather than force.
It was a contrast from Chesney Hughes, who launched Derbyshire's best start to an innings so far with gusto, his boundaries coming usually with a flourish. He had nine in his 59 and it was a shame that he paid the price for being too extravagant, mishitting an attempt to pull Harry Gurney to the ropes and cursing himself as the ball flew tamely to mid-off.
At least Gurney could feel compensated. He had seen Hughes, on 48, and Godleman, with 19, dropped off consecutive balls by Samit Patel at slip.
Adams picked up his sole reward when Godleman followed one outside off stump and gave Read a regulation catch but neither he nor any of his colleagues has found much in the pitch. The ball swung a little under the morning's cloudy sky but for once here conditions have not been as read. Krikken admitted Derbyshire would have bowled first, too. Madsen, this time, will be pleased he did not have the choice.