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Adam Riley's best day for three years opens door for Kent

Wayne Madsen works the ball away Getty Images

Derbyshire 400 (Madsen 93, Godleman 71, Hughes 66) and 83 for 2 trail Kent 561 (Denly 106, Crawley 96, Stewart 85, Henry 81, Kuhn 51, Palladino 5-113) by 78 runs
Scorecard

News of defeat for Sussex at Lord's would have reached the Kent dressing room during the tea interval, conveniently enough, to provide them with the immediate incentive of knowing that the prize for victory here is second place in the Division Two table.

Whether they can pull it off depends largely on how well, on the final day, Derbyshire can resist Kent's spinners on a used pitch that is offering both turn and variable bounce. Following on, they have already lost two of their most experienced hands in Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen, with still work to do level things up let alone build a meaningful lead.

Adam Riley, who has become something of a forgotten man since being identified as an England spin bowler in the making when he took 57 first-class wickets in the 2014 season, enjoyed quite literally his best day in years. His off-breaks and Joe Denly's leggies look key to Kent's hopes.

Riley's wickets -- three in the first innings and another two in the follow-on -- were his first in the Championship for almost three years after running into a series of frustrations.

For all his difficulties, he remained upbeat about the future, saying: "The aim was always to get back in the first team by performing with the second team and in the last few weeks I've taken 20-odd wickets so I got back in on merit."

The success of that 2014 season earned Riley a Lions tour to South Africa and at 22 he seemed to be at the threshold of an outstanding career. Yet he was stopped in his tracks by a muscle tear that stubbornly refused to heal, then struggled to find his form following modifications to his action. It has not helped that so many Division Two pitches are green seamers, making him often simply surplus to requirements.

So there was no concealing his delight when he ended his long drought by beating Madsen's attempted sweep late in the morning session, denying the former Derbyshire captain a hundred and breaking a partnership that was threatening to turn the contest into a stalemate.

Madsen and Alex Hughes, who had played the spinners pretty well, had added 130 for the third wicket but, as so often happens, one breakthrough brings another, Riley claiming his second only a couple of overs later as Derbyshire stumbled from 288 for 2 five overs before lunch to 301 for 4.

Putting together another partnership thereafter proved beyond the home side, although Sean Ervine drew on his experience to dig in for 30 overs in making 26. But Riley made another incision early in the afternoon session as Matt Critchley took a walk down the pitch and was stumped all too easily.

Then Denly was at last rewarded when he found the edge of Harvey Hosein's bat with one that turned a lot and Kent were so much in charge that the chance to take the new ball was put off until the old one had 111 overs on the clock.

When it was taken, Grant Stewart quickly saw off Hardus Viljoen and ended Ervine's vigil and Matt Henry ran out Tony Palladino with a direct hit after fielding his own bowling.

Derbyshire might consider themselves a little unfortunate. The 30 runs that Lockie Ferguson and Hamidullah Qadri added for the last wicket took their total to 400 for only the second time this season, yet Kent's 561 gave captain Sam Billings the option to enforce the follow-on and he took it, as was to be expected given that pitch already aiding their spinners is unlikely to become less helpful.

For spectators who were wondering how rare it is to score 400 and have to follow on the answer, in Derbyshire's case, is only once before in their history - 117 years ago, to be precise, when Nottinghamshire made 661 on this ground in 1901 (of which Billy Gunn scored 273) and Derbyshire replied with 452 (Levi Wright 193). It was a three-day match and it will hardly come as a surprise that it ended in a draw.

To emerge from this with the same outcome, they will first need to remember the regrettably old-fashioned virtue of patience. Riley is already among the wickets again, forcing a misjudgement from Godleman and holding a low return catch to dismiss Madsen for the second time in the day. Tom Lace, the young Middlesex opener who impressed in the first innings on his first-class debut, has looked composed again but the wise head of Ervine, on loan from Hampshire, may be the most important one.