Early wickets lift Leicestershire after collapse
Derbyshire 40 for 2 v Leicestershire 279
Leicestershire shaded the first day at Derbyshire despite a batting collapse that saw the visitors lose their last nine wickets for 166 runs. Will Jefferson top scored with 94 and shared a century stand for the second wicket with Paul Nixon before Derbyshire fought back after lunch.
Seamer Tim Groenewald took 3 for 44 to send Leicestershire sliding to 279 all out but then Derbyshire skipper Chris Rogers failed after his batting heroics at The Oval as the home side closed on 40 for 2. The match marked the start of a new era for Derbyshire, who were playing a County Championship match on a pitch facing in a north/south direction for the first time since 1963.
The county took the decision to rotate the square after problems with low sun halting play but there was little in a newly-laid surface to concern the ECB's pitch liaison officer Tony Pigott, who had the dubious privilege of watching the action on a bitingly cold day at the County Ground.
His assessment that the pitch was consistent in bounce will have encouraged Derbyshire, whose decision to put Leicestershire in looked questionable at lunch when Jefferson and Nixon put their side in a promising position. But the afternoon belonged to the home side when the loss of five wickets undermined the efforts of Jefferson and Nixon, who added 104 after Matthew Boyce had gone without scoring in the third over of the day.
Jefferson made an early impact when he pulled Mark Footitt into the top window of the groundstaff's Portakabin and the tall opener also reeled off several straight drives to the ropes on his way to his first Leicestershire half-century. He rode his luck, edging Greg Smith through the hands of first slip on 49. But if Derbyshire's bowlers did not get the rub of the green before lunch, they hit back strongly once Nixon got an inside edge to mid-wicket.
James Taylor became one of four victims for Luke Goddard, who pouched the edge that denied Jefferson a century after 204 minutes in the middle. Tom New and Claude Henderson took Leicestershire to a second batting point before spinner Robin Peterson struck twice in four balls and, although New completed an excellent fifty before he was run out by a direct hit, the visitors had failed to build on a good start.
But it looked a better total when Matthew Hoggard claimed the prize wicket of Rogers in the fifth over of Derbyshire's reply. The Australian had scored a double hundred and an unbeaten century in the previous game against Surrey but this time he went for three, caught behind, as he pushed at the former England seamer.
When Paul Borrington edged Nathan Buck low to second slip in the next over, Derbyshire were nine for two but Wayne Madsen and Garry Park prevented further setbacks in fading light to leave their side trailing by 239 runs.