An even, but largely uninspiring day’s cricket at the Brightside Ground, Bristol saw Derbyshire reach 242-3 which featured solid efforts from Chesney Hughes who made 96 and Wayne Madsen who finished unbeaten on 58.
Derbyshire declined the opportunity to bowl first, won the resultant toss and took first innings on a lovely sunny morning.
Progress was sedate against a generally accurate home seam attack that welcomed the first appearance of the season by David Payne and a home debut for 20-year-old Josh Shaw, on a season-long loan from Yorkshire.
Shaw was lively in his first spell of five overs for 17 but Derbyshire openers Ben Slater and Chesney Hughes overcame the few problems posed. After a first hour which yielded only 31 the visiting openers increased the scoring rate as the early moisture in the pitch lessened.
Hughes in particular settled and played some impressive cover drives to reach 45 out of Derbyshire’s total of 96-0 at lunch, with partner Slater 42.
Soon after lunch Hughes reached 50 from 87 balls with nine fours. With a career average of 30, Hughes, always the most attractive of left-handers, hasn’t quite fulfilled his rich early promise. But here the 25-year-old Anguillan showed that time could still be on his side.
He is particularly strong hitting off the front foot in the arc between cover and mid-off. Today he also showed his game had a resilient side which his side needed against some accurate bowling on a slowish pitch.
The visitors lost their first wicket on 103 when Slater, without adding to his lunch score, was caught off Norwell. In the same over stand-in skipper Hamish Rutherford escaped a sharp chance to Cameron Bancroft at third slip before he’d scored.
But his reprieve was temporary as he went in Norwell’s next over, caught behind for a single.
Wayne Madsen, in his first innings since relinquishing the Derbyshire captaincy, dug in and showed patient application, but little fluency. Hughes, after showing more characteristic attacking intent either side of lunch, slowly moved to 79 not out at tea.
Such was the extent to which the home attack pegged back the Derbyshire batsmen that only 47 runs in 33 overs were added between lunch and tea which was taken with Madsen 9* from 91 balls and the visitors 141-2.
Madsen increased the tempo after tea, hitting successive boundaries from Shaw. But with Hughes’s century a seeming inevitability he chopped on to off-spinner Jack Taylor just four short of his eighth first-class hundred, to make Derbyshire 176-3. Hughes’s 96 came from 206 balls with 16 fours.
Madsen eventually reached his 50, made from 169 balls with seven fours and in the late stages of the day was assisted by New Zealand right- hander Neil Broom, making his Derbyshire debut. Broom was 30 not out at stumps.
All the home bowlers performed tidily with last season’s leading wicket taker Liam Norwell who took 2-55 from his 20 overs always looking there most dangerous.
Afterwards Gloucestershire skipper Gareth Roderick said he was pleased with the way that his bowlers had stuck to their task and paid tribute to the Derbyshire batsmen who showed similar application in an attritional day’s cricket.
The first session tomorrow morning could be important in determining which of these sides has the upper hand.