Warwickshire 13 for 1 trail Derbyshire 189 (Critchley 64, Reece 63, Norwell 5-32) by 176 runs
When people suggest there are too many first-class counties, Derbyshire tend to be one of those they highlight.
And, much as some of us might want to refute that, you can see why. They’ve only had two seasons in the top division of the County Championship – 2000 and 2013 – and the last time one of their players was selected to play for England was in 2002. Yes, Gary Ballance and Ian Blackwell played for Derbyshire and England. But the last serving Derbyshire player to win England selection was Dominic Cork. And if you’re not challenging for trophies or producing many quality players, well, what’s the point?
They don’t have a great record against Warwickshire, either. They haven’t beaten them in a first-class game since 1993 and have only played them three times in the last decade.
So, this is a big year for Derbyshire. They are, in some senses, exactly the sort of team this new Championship structure was designed to encourage. After years of slipping dangerously close to irrelevance, they have a chance to show that, with a bit of extra incentive, they can mix it with the best. And, in sharing a group with Essex, they really are in with the best.
It didn’t start well. After little more than half an hour, they were 7 for 3 with three of their top four having been dismissed for ducks. You would expect any surface at this time of year to provide some assistance to seamers, but there was nothing outlandish on show here. Indeed, this seems to be a better pitch than anyone had any right to expect after the relentlessly cold weather in recent days. After the immaculate Oliver Hannon-Dalby – whose first seven-over spell cost just three runs – returned to surprise Wayne Madsen with a bit of extra bounce, Derbyshire were 40 for 5.
Luis Reece and Matt Critchley provided some resistance in adding 93 for the fifth-wicket. While Reece’s innings was, for the most part, a dogged affair – not that there’s anything wrong with that – Critchley batted with a fluency and elegance that nobody could match on the day. At one stage, he took Craig Miles for four successive boundaries – three of them gorgeous drives – and reached his fifty in just 58 balls.
Although neither could strictly be said to have come through the Derbyshire system – Lancashire played a more significant role in the development of both players – they are the sort of players around whom the club could mount a decent campaign this summer.
But neither of them progressed much beyond 60. And with nobody else in the team reaching 15, it left Derbyshire without a batting bonus point and as much as 100 runs short of a par score. It was, in short, an underwhelming start to their challenge.
To be fair to Derbyshire, they were unfortunate to run into Liam Norwell in top form. Some of Warwickshire’s coaches believe he is the second quickest bowler on their staff, after Olly Stone, and here he generated surprisingly sharp pace while maintaining a probing line and length. He claimed two wickets in his first over – Billy Godleman forced into playing at one and Anuj Dal missing a straight one – and returned later returned to break the Reece-Critchley stand.
Going round the wicket, he brought an edge from the left-handed Reece with another that forced a stroke and bounced a little, before Critchley pushed at one outside off. In between times, Harvey Hosein appeared to be hurried by one that bounced more than anticipated and was also caught in the cordon. It was the 12th five-wicket haul of Norwell’s first-class career and his second in six games since joining Warwickshire in 2019. Warwickshire’s catching was excellent despite the chilly conditions.
Norwell admitted he had been nervous before play. While there’s little doubting his ability, he had struggled with injury in recent years – this is just his seventh first-class game since the start of 2018 – and he knows that, aged 29, he is running out of opportunities to show what he can do. This game came exactly 10 years since his first-class debut; a game in which he claimed 6 for 46 against Derbyshire.
But he was preferred to Henry Brookes in this match and is rated by Warwickshire’s director of cricket, Paul Farbrace, as a key reason the club avoided relegation in 2019.
“I just want to repay the faith Warwickshire have shown in me,” Norwell said. “I’ve had a pretty right time of things over the last few years; this is the first time I’ve been fit for the start of the season since 2017.
“The coach [Mark Robinson] has given me confidence and told me to relax. He’s told us to enjoy it and tried to instil some belief. I’m not looking too far ahead: I just want to stay fit and put in some good performances to repay that faith.”
While Will Rhodes, leaving a straight one, fell early in reply, there was good news for Warwickshire off the pitch, too. Their replacement overseas player, Hanuma Vihari, arrived in the country around lunchtime and will now quarantine in Birmingham in the hope of being available for next week’s game against Nottinghamshire. Warwickshire also expect Stone, who missed this game as part of his planned workload management ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, to play next week. They hope he will play four Championship matches before that Test series. Ryan Sidebottom is currently coming back from injury but is expected to play club cricket this weekend.
While Vihari is, for now, planning on playing no more than three games, he is expected to be available for more. Indeed, with little sign of progress in Pieter Malan’s attempts to obtain a visa, there has to be a chance that Vihari will play until he is required by India.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Mushfiqur Rahim and pacers shine after first six rounds
A summary of the first six rounds of games at the Dhaka Premier League T20s
How the table stands
Players with poor returns
Najmul Hossain Shanto, Anamul Haque and Nasir Hossain haven’t been among the runs despite playing in important positions for big clubs. Abahani’s Shanto, who was dropped from Bangladesh’s ODI side recently, has so far made 85 runs in five innings. Haque, who plays for Prime Bank, averages 15.50 with a top score of 35 runs in six outings. Hossain, playing for Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, averages 15 with the bat and 80 with the ball, having struck just one six in his six innings.
On the national radar
BCB’s monetary and logistical effort to ensure a bio-bubble environment for 12 DPL clubs and match officials is commendable. Never before have the Dhaka league players seen such opulence in their accommodation, but the cricket on the field hasn’t quite matched the budget. There have been no more than two or three tight finishes. Pitches have been predictably slow at the Shere Bangla National Stadium while the drainage in the two BKSP venues hasn’t helped in the monsoon.
Rain has had a lot to do with the 130-ish average scoring rate in all three venues as matches have been interrupted, reduced and abandoned in the first ten days. Batting line-ups have found themselves out of rhythm. When Dhaka has to host three matches per day from 9am to 10pm, it is clear that the BCB and the clubs are desperate to finish the tournament, rather than worry too much about the quality of cricket.
The other disappointment has been the performance of teams like Gazi Group Cricketers, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Legends of Rupganj. Rupganj lost their first four matches before recovering with two wins, while Gazi Group and Dhanmondi Club have been lacklustre. This, despite all three spending big on player salaries.
Paying for a bio-bubble that costs more than 7 crore takas (USD $825,000 approx.) isn’t sustainable, but Bangladesh is in the middle of a prolonged lockdown so there weren’t too many alternatives to finish what is essentially the 2019-20 DPL. There are still 30 matches left in the first round apart from the Super League and the relegation playoffs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
IU vs LQ, PSL 2021 – Rashid Khan on cameo
Rashid helped the Qalandars score 16 off the final over, a task never achieved in PSL history previously
Sixteen needed to win – no team in the PSL had ever chased down that many – but still, no big hits on Rashid’s mind.
“The plan that I went to the crease with, my mindset was, I am not going to play big shots here because if I did that I could’ve gotten out,” Rashid said post-match. “When I got there I thought I’ll just try and find some gaps here. The bowler was new also. If he bowled in my areas my thinking was just to try and hit gaps.”
Shadab Khan, Islamabad United’s captain, chose to go with Hussain Talat for that last over, a decision that caused surprise at the time – Shadab himself had an over left – and was criticised post-fact of the loss. Spinners don’t often bowl last overs in T20s and the dew played a part in Shadab’s decision not to bowl himself. Shadab said after the game he hadn’t bowled himself out earlier because it would have pitted him against a left-handed batter at the crease but it also later emerged that an injury to Faheem Ashraf forced them into a recalculation.
That, and that United do believe Talat is a legitimate death-overs option (he has only bowled at the death 10 innings out of 30 in the PSL and for Pakistan, but more often in the National T20). His first ball, however, a slower offcutter gave Rashid exactly the kind of room outside off stump which he loves, as well as just the start to that final over the Qalandars needed. Rashid lofted it over cover for four and didn’t look back; he repeated the shot next ball and a fortuitous third boundary left them with a simpler task.
“I was planning on looking for those gaps, but it so happened I got three boundaries off those first three balls and then we needed four off three. Definitely, in games and situations like this, you have to keep a cool mind. You have to stay relaxed. When you need six sixes, you have to go for it. Here I just needed two proper shots and you win the game.”
The cameo sealed the Player-of-the-Match award for Rashid too, his unbeaten, five-ball 15 the cherry on top of bowling figures of 4-0-9-1. Rashid had initially signed on for just a two-game contract when the season began in February-March, before joining up with Afghanistan for international duty and then to the T20 Blast with Sussex. He chose instead to extend his contract and stay on with Qalandars.
“It really was a team effort for us tonight, everyone took responsibility for the game. One guy doesn’t win you a game. The most important spell was [James] Faulkner at the top, Haris [Rauf] bowled really well through the middle, then Sohail [Akhtar] took responsibility with the bat, and Mohammad Hafeez and Ben Dunk. In T20s, you don’t win with one guy, the entire team has to do their bits collectively for it.”
PSL 2021- Faheem Ashraf to miss at least three games for Islamabad United with hand injury
He split the webbing between his index finger and thumb on his left hand while fielding on Wednesday night
“Faheem suffered a laceration to the base of the left thumb. Suturing was completed in the ER, he was given antibiotics and paracetamol and discharged into our care,” United physio Jason Pilgrim said in a statement.
Ashraf injured his hand while fielding at short fine leg during the fifth over of the chase, bowled by Hasan Ali. Ashraf had, by then, bowled his first two overs and bowled Fakhar Zaman before he walked off to get five stitches on his hand. He missed a major chunk of the game while getting medical attention and wasn’t allowed to bowl again but seeing the nature of his injury as an extraordinary circumstance, the umpires and match referee allowed Ashraf to bowl his remaining two overs – the 14th and 17th of the innings – while going off the field in between and after because he couldn’t field at all.
Ashraf conceded a combined 21 runs in those two overs and finished with 4-0-31-1. United now have to fill his position in the lower middle order with either Muhammad Musa or Akif Javed.
Ashraf has been one of the main players for United since 2018, having played 36 games until Wednesday with an impressive bowling average of 18.88 – the second-best in the league – and he is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the league with a tally of 51 wickets and holds the tournament’s second-best bowling figures, of 6 for 19. Over the last two seasons, his batting played a role in increasing the depth in their line-up.
United are among the few teams disturbed by the postponement and shift of the PSL from Karachi to Abu Dhabi. Their roster of local players remains intact but most of their first-choice overseas players, who were around before the postponement, are not available for different reasons. They bought Usman Khawaja to replace Alex Hales, but they are also missing out on Lewis Gregory and Phil Salt, and even South Africa’s Janneman Malan, who couldn’t get an NOC from his home board.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
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