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Group 1, Birmingham, April 08 - 11, 2021, County Championship
189 & 244
(T:213) 221 & 7/0

Match drawn


Derbyshire thrash their way into trouble as Oliver Hannon-Dalby profits

Visitors five down and just 39 ahead after Hannon-Dalby knocks over top order

George Dobell
George Dobell
Oliver Hannon-Dalby bagged a second-innings five-for  •  Getty Images

Oliver Hannon-Dalby bagged a second-innings five-for  •  Getty Images

Derbyshire 189 and 71 for 5 (Hannon-Dalby 5-29) lead Warwickshire 221 (Lamb 54) by 39 runs
There was a time when, confronted by tricky conditions and a tight match situation, a batsman might be expected to buckle down for some dogged resistance.
Take Alan Hill, for example. Hill is something of a folk hero among Derbyshire supporters for his obdurate batting. He holds the record for the highest first-class score (103, since you ask, made for Orange Free State v Griqualand West in 1976-77) without a boundary. He's one of only three men to have made a first-class hundred without hitting a four or six. Once, when batting against Kent at Derby in 1977, he went 68 minutes before getting off the mark. He might not have had the spectators flocking in, but by God bowlers had to earn his wicket.
Modern cricket isn't like that. While there are one or two Hill-types out there - Dom Sibley isn't a bad example - the default response to most situations these days appears to be to attempt to hit the ball harder and further. You couldn't say the game was less skilful than it was previously; batters play shots of which Hill and co could never have dreamed. And you might argue the contemporary game is more entertaining than it has ever been. But maybe, somewhere along the way, some subtle skills - not least the will and ability to defend for long periods - has been lost.
So it was that Derbyshire, starting their second innings with a deficit of 32 runs, seemed intent on thrashing their way into a match-winning position before a ball could come along to defeat them.
It was a puzzling tactic. While the conditions were certainly offering some assistance to the seamers, evidence from the Warwickshire innings - and the success of Matt Lamb, Rob Yates and Tim Bresnan, in particular - suggested there was little benefit in pushing for the ball and more in waiting for it.
Maybe Derbyshire's batters simply wanted to return to the warmth of the dressing room? This match has been played in miserably cold conditions and was interrupted by sleet on the third afternoon. Even while play was in progress, the temperature was just under three degrees. It's literally warmer in a fridge.
The man beneficiary of Derbyshire's loose approach to batting was Oliver Hannon-Dalby. Bowling, as ever really, an immaculate length, he probed around off stump with unrelenting accuracy. And while he is not especially quick - somewhere around 80mph, you would think - his height (6ft 8in) enables him to gain disconcerting bounce. Combined with an ability to hit the seam and gain swing and you have, in these conditions at least, a dangerous bowler.
In taking all five wickets to fall so far in the second innings, he has sustained his outstanding recent performances. His overall career record may look modest - that average hovers just above 30 - but, since the start of 2017, he is taking his first-class wickets (and there have been 106 of them) at a cost of 22.36 apiece. He has developed into a fine operator and key member of this side.
"It's a good cricket wicket," Hanon-Dalby said afterwards. "Yes, there's something there for the bowlers. But if you don't put the ball in the right place, there are runs to be scored. We did't expect them to come as hard at us in their second innings as they did.
"What am I doing differently over the last few years? I've sure I've matured a bit as a cricketer. But mainly it's about opportunity. There were so many great bowlers ahead of me when I came to Warwickshire: Chris Woakes, Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Chris Wright, Boyd Rankin… the list goes on. I was coming on fourth change sometimes.
"So, I've had to bide my time for a chance to take the new ball and show what I can do."
Here, Luis Reece, usually so disciplined, drove loosely at one angled across him, Anuj Dal played across a straight one and Leus du Plooy - maybe that should read "du Pl00y" - completed a pair when he was beaten by a fine delivery that nipped back into him. By the time Billy Godleman jabbed at one he could have left, Derbyshire were four down and only two ahead.
Wayne Madsen could consider himself unfortunate, though: the ball that dismissed him pitched on middle, bounced and left him to take the edge. It might have been too good for anyone.
That the match goes into the final day is largely due to the weather - there was no play after 2.40pm - and Matt Critchley. Critchley has enjoyed a fine game. His first-innings contribution of 64 remains the most fluent knock of the match, and he has top-scored so far in Derbyshire's second innings, once again demonstrating some lovely timing off his legs and a pleasing pull for four when Liam Norwell dropped short.
He also helped polish off the Warwickshire innings on the third morning. Yes, he'll confront more testing batsmen in his career, but he ended Lamb's worthy resistance with a legbreak, Madsen holding on to the sharpest of catches in front of his face at slip, almost defeated Danny Briggs with a first-ball googly, then trapped Norwell with one that skidded on.
So that's variety, control and an ability to bat he has demonstrated in this match. A career bowling average in the mid-40s suggests he is nowhere near international cricket. But, given England's relatively meagre options and his relative youth at 24, he may be a cricketer to keep an eye upon.
He has some work ahead of him on the fourth day. Perhaps, if Derbyshire can stretch this lead to 150 or so, they may yet put Warwickshire under pressure. You suspect, however, they will rue the frenetic way they went about their second innings.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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