Stumps day four: Gloucestershire 563 (Dent 180, Norwell 102; Hughes 3-87) draw with Derbyshire 444 (Madsen 150; Norwell 4-104) & 260/2d (Hughes 137, Rutherford 78, Madsen 27*)
A dull fourth day’s cricket at the Brightside Ground, Bristol ended with stumps drawn on a draw at 4.50 with Derbyshire 260/2 declared, 141 ahead of Gloucestershire.
Chesney Hughes finished on an excellent 137 not out and Wayne Madsen, followed his 150 in the first innings with an unbeaten 27.
On Sunday morning, the first day of this match, the talk was of the toss which took place as visitors Derbyshire had declined the opportunity to bowl first. In the event Derbyshire won it and batted.
A more important discussion point was the purpose of this ECB trial initiative- to discourage hosts from preparing pitches which suited their bowling attacks.
It’s difficult to disagree with the motives of this initiative. Twenty- five wickets falling to seamers on the first day on a green pitch serves nobody’s interests, least of all the batters and spin bowlers whom the ECB want to encourage with the England team in mind. But here at Bristol for four days we have seen the opposite scenario- a pitch so docile that hardly a ball misbehaved for the whole of the match.
It has made for three days of distinctly uninspiring cricket (Gloucestershire’s enterprising third day batting is excluded from this condemnation) which is no more beneficial to the county game than seamer-friendly green tops.
This morning, with the two first innings completed in three days, Derbyshire began their second innings in bright sunshine.
The visitors got off to the worst start, Ben Slater run out in the cruellest circumstances, the ball deflecting into the stumps from Liam Norwell’s outstretched hand.
Chesney Hughes and Hamish Rutherford set about pursuing Derbyshire’s initial aim – clearing the arrears of 119 – against some lively home bowling spearheaded by Norwell and David Payne. Any fears that the batsmen had that the pitch would show signs of fourth- day wear were quickly shown to be ill-founded. Occasionally the ball beat the bat, but in general batting progress was untroubled.
Hughes reached his second half-century of the match from 75 balls with ten fours. It has been a good match for the 25 year old Anguillan left-hander after his 96 in the first innings and three wickets with his slow left-arm.
By the lunch interval Derbyshire had reached 105/1 from 31 overs, trailing by 14, with Hughes not out 59 and Rutherford unbeaten on 37.
After lunch Rutherford passed the half century mark, scored from 107 balls with six fours. It seemed likely that he would turn this into three figures but when on 78 he clipped a Jack Taylor off- break to Chris Dent at short cover who took a smart catch to make Derbyshire 180/2, a lead of 61.
Hughes went to the eighth First Class century of his career with a trademark cover drive to the boundary from Taylor. It came from 194 balls with 16 fours and, as in the first innings, he batted with the typical tall left-hander’s elegance, particularly when leaning into his cover drives played with him half forward.
At tea, with the game safe for Derbyshire, the visitors were 219/2 from 66 overs with Hughes not out 123 and Wayne Madsen not out 8.
The remainder of the game was played out in the sort of unhurried fashion that traditionally county cricketers demonstrate in such situations, and it was with general relief all round when stumps were finally drawn.
Gloucestershire 12 points Derbyshire 8 points.
In their next matches Gloucestershire entertain Worcestershire at Bristol while Glamorgan visit Derby.