Day 2: Weston's graft shows up Kent
By Neil Hallam at Derby
Second day of four: Derbys (159-5) trail Kent (165) by 6 runs
THE police helicopter which spent much of the day monitoring traffic movements around the County Ground was also able to report busy comings and goings in the middle as Kent's batsman capitulated flimsily for 165 in under 44 overs and Derbyshire lost five wickets in moving to within six runs of this total.
The fall of one more wicket would have prompted a mandatory report on the pitch to Lord's but it was poor batting technique rather than any failing on the part of the groundstaff which explained a processional day.
A slow pitch did not encourage fluency but Kent's total amounted to conspicuous under-achievement, a point underlined as Robin Weston grafted to a career-best unbeaten 58 in only his third first-class game since joining Derbyshire from Durham this summer.
Kent's decision to bat first seemed reasonable but from the platform of 70 without loss in 19 overs they made a precipitous descent, at one stage losing seven wickets for 41 in 11 overs as Phil DeFreitas and Kevin Dean prompted a rich assortment of inadequate strokes by the simple expedient of keeping the ball up to the bat.
David Fulton began the collapse with a slice to second slip and Trevor Ward continued it four balls later when he misjudged Dean's late inswinger.
Ed Smith and Nigel Llong wafted round straight ones, Mark Ealham was defeated by a bit of extra bounce and only Matthew Fleming hinted at durability once Carl Hooper had glanced too finely down the legside.
Julian Thompson required stitches and dental treatment after ducking into a short ball from Dominic Cork and retiring hurt but was able to bowl later when Derbyshire's attempt to claim a commanding first-innings lead ran into turbulence.
Michael May played defensively down the wrong line, Michael Slater's uneasy occupation ended with a miscued drive and Derbyshire were left heavily reliant on Weston's tenacity when a testing spell from Dean Headley accounted for Kim Barnett, Matt Cassar and Vince Clarke.
Day 3: Dean hat-trick trips up Kent
By Neil Hallam
THE unreliability of basing firm judgements entirely on bald statistics was underlined at a bleak County Ground as Kevin Dean, whose 14 championship wickets cost almost 39 runs each last season, and Robin Weston, a batsman with a career average of under 10 when he was discarded by Durham in September, gave Derbyshire the platform from which to challenge for their fourth championship victory.
Weston's disciplined innings of 97, compiled over 5.5 hours, gave Derbyshire a first-innings lead of 95 in this rain-hit game and their prospects rose sharply when Dean, a young left-arm seamer in prime form, took a hat-trick to plunge Kent into dire straits at 26 for four.
Kent's batting, worryingly flimsy in their collapse to 165 all out in the first innings, was again exposed for lack of application and technique when David Fulton jabbed the second ball of their second innings to second slip via third.
And despite a first-day wash-out, they had much to do to take the game into the final day when Dean, who took his wickets for the season to 35 with four in Kent's first innings, uprooted Ed Smith, Carl Hooper and Nigel Llong in his fourth over.
Smith wafted loosely to gully, Hooper was pinned plum in front by Dean's late inswing and there were scenes of celebration in the middle when Llong glanced down the leg-side before departing with an expression which suggested he had considerable doubt about making contact.
The hat-trick, Derbyshire's first since 1994, was confirmation of a major advance by Dean, whose career seemed stalled by a lack of staying power in 1997.
``He's come on a lot,'' insisted captain Dominic Cork.
Day 4: Derbyshire's spirits given a dousing
By Neil Hallam at Derby
Kent (165 & 129-5) drew with Derbyshire (260)
AN UPBEAT spell of seven days in which Derbyshire reached the semi- finals of the NatWest Trophy, capped Michael Slater and Kevin Dean, beat Kent emphatically in the AXA League and outplayed them in the championship ended in disappointment yesterday.
Their high hopes of a fourth championship win were drowned by rain which permitted only 6.2 overs, Mark Ealham completing an unbeaten half-century as Kent, who resumed nine runs ahead, reached 129 for five to extend their lead to 34 before the umpteenth shower imposed the draw.
And, for a Derbyshire side who still have seven championship games to play, there was a further dousing for the spirits with news that batsman Adrian Rollins, who last played on July 5, is unlikely to reappear this season because of a ``degenerative lumbar disc problem''.
Kent's avoidance of defeat hardly improved the mood of their coach John Wright. ``We've got a problem with our top order and we batted badly again,'' he admitted. ``It's more to do with attitude than technique, so it could well mean a few changes.''