Dogged half centuries from Wayne Madsen and Dan Redfern helped Derbyshire along to 238-5 after a slow first day of their LV= County Championship Second Division match with Leicestershire.
The pick of the bowlers at Grace Road was Claude Henderson. The 38-year-old bowled a marathon 30 over spell across all three sessions that saw him take three wickets, including the key dismissals of Madsen and Chesney Hughes for just 60 runs.
Leicestershire made one change to the side that was defeated in Derby last time out, bringing in Wayne White for Greg Smith, while the visitors made two changes from the team that lost to Middlesex, as Ross Whiteley and Antonio Palladino made way for Mark Turner and Azeem Rafiq.
Rafiq has just joined the Falcons on loan from Yorkshire, and the former England Under-19 captain is a controversial figure following a foul-mouthed Twitter tirade directed at Under 19’s manager John Abrahams last summer.
Abrahams dropped the spinner from the second youth test match against Sri Lanka in July after he had captained the side to a 199-run defeat in the first test, and Rafiq responded with the expletive-ridden rant at his manager on the popular social networking site. Following a one month suspension by the ECB, he started this season in Yorkshire’s second team before being loaned out to Derbyshire for first team experience.
He first hit the headlines in 2008, though through no fault of his own after being selected in the Tykes’ Twenty20 Cup match with Nottinghamshire despite not being registered, meaning Yorkshire were thrown out of that competition.
The early overs saw some variable bounce that almost accounted for the Derbyshire openers. In the second of the day, a Nathan Buck delivery did not bounce at all, and raced past wicketkeeper Tom New for four byes.
At the other end, a ball from Matthew Hoggard took off and flicked the shoulder of Madsen’s bat, but Jacques du Toit could only parry it up and he failed to take the rebound.
The opening wicket came with the score on 44 after sharp bounce from Nadeem Malik saw Wes Durston nick the ball to New, who took a comfortable catch.
That brought out the Falcons overseas player Usman Khawaja, who made his Australian test debut against England at Sydney in January. He and Madsen stayed together in to the afternoon session, despite the run rate rarely passing three an over.
Khawaja fell for 35 after flaying at a wide delivery from Hoggard and edging to give New his second catch of the innings.
Madsen then brought up a leisurely 50 with a boundary to third man that took 142 balls, and the following over Hughes was given a life after Will Jefferson dropped him at slip.
His vigil came to an end on 58 as Henderson took his first wicket. The South African born batsman tried to turn a straight delivery round the corner, but the ball rapped his pads and he was out lbw after more than three hours at the crease.
Despite looking solid for the majority of his 35 runs, Hughes did struggle with Henderson, and became his second victim after slashing a cut shot straight to Wayne White at point. That wicket fell in the penultimate over before tea, and Derbyshire reached the interval at 170-4.
Henderson’s third wicket was Greg Smith, after a quicker ball clipped the top of off stump.
Redfern reached his 50 off 151 balls late in the evening session, and he was supported to the close by Luke Sutton in an unbroken partnership of 64. The Derbyshire captain was fortunate to survive after being dropped on 10 by Jefferson at slip-his third error of the day, and the teams fourth.