Derbyshire respond to Masters' five
Derbyshire’s lower order defied the Essex attack to give their side the edge on day two of the LV= County Championship match at Derby.
David Masters had reduced the hosts to 123 for five - 56 behind - but spirited batting from Greg Smith, Dan Redfern and skipper Luke Sutton earned Derbyshire a first-innings lead of 109.
Smith’s 35 from 41 balls was backed up by 34 from Redfern and Sutton’s 43 as the last five wickets added 165 to lift Derbyshire to 288.
Alastair Cook and Jaik Mickleburgh survived an awkward 10 overs as Essex reduced the deficit by 24 at stumps, although they remain 85 adrift.
They would have fancied their chances of earning a slender advantage when Masters, who finished 5-71, struck twice after rain had held up play, but he lacked support.
Masters removed nightwatchman Tony Palladino and Wes Durston in the space of three balls to leave Derbyshire 76 for four, but South Africa paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe again struggled.
He failed to find a consistent line and also bowled eight no-balls in a total of 52 extras, which was the highest contribution to the Derbyshire innings.
He did end opener Wayne Madsen’s patient innings of 51 and must have been close to getting Smith leg before first ball, but there were too many loose deliveries for a bowler of international standard.
Masters was easily the pick of the home attack and, after former team-mate Palladino lbw, he had Durston caught at second slip for a duck.
Madsen and Redfern occupied the crease for 16 overs until Madsen was lbw to a full-length delivery from Tsotsobe.
But Smith’s counter-attack seized the initiative and, although Derbyshire were still four runs behind when Tim Phillips beat his forward push, Sutton and Azeem Rafiq added to the visitors’ frustration.
Their partnership of 55 in 16 overs meant Derbyshire’s lead was already significant in a low-scoring contest and, although Sutton’s 81-ball innings ended when he drove at a wide one from Ravi Bopara, Rafiq and Tim Groenewald added 27 for the last wicket.
Essex were left with a testing spell to negotiate and Mickleburgh had a scare when he survived a big shout for a catch behind off the first ball of the innings, but he and Cook dug in to deny Derbyshire further success on a prosperous day.