Awesome Hughes makes Yorkshire pay
Chesney Hughes marked his recall to Derbyshire’s team with a superb unbeaten 171 that left Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale rueing his decision to field first on the opening day of the LV= County Championship Division One clash at Headingley.
After rain delayed the start of play by 45 minutes, Gale’s choice to insert the visitors after winning his first toss of the season reaped an early reward when Tim Bresnan removed Billy Godleman.
However, Yorkshire were made to wait 68 overs for another breakthrough thanks to a remarkable second-wicket stand of 258 between Hughes, who was given a reprieve on 70, and Wayne Madsen.
Hughes, dropped for last week’s defeat to local rivals Nottinghamshire after a couple of poor scores in the middle order, showed he has the capabilities to open the batting by hitting 25 fours and three maximums in a stunning 282-ball innings, while Madsen weighed in with a more reserved 93.
Although the skipper’s dismissal was the first of three late wickets to fall for just 11 runs, Derbyshire were well placed on 302 for four at stumps.
A couple of early showers produced conditions suited to seam bowling and, after Madsen failed to call correctly for the fourth successive match, Derbyshire’s openers initially found the going tough against Bresnan and Jack Brooks.
Godleman prodded around before Bresnan put him out of his misery in the seventh over, Joe Root taking a smart catch at third slip.
Yet from then on the Tykes’ bowlers were frustrated by stubborn resistance from Hughes, who replaced Ross Whiteley in Karl Krikken’s side, and Madsen.
Left-hander Hughes took Bresnan for fours either side of the wicket, while Madsen punished a wayward line from Liam Plunkett to secure successive boundaries that heralded the Derbyshire fifty.
Shortly after lunch the untroubled Hughes, now England-qualified, registered his first half-century in 15 innings - off 92 balls - with a sublime cut off Brooks, bringing up his team’s 100 in the process.
Gale threw the ball back to Bresnan in the 40th over and the seamer should have dismissed Hughes on 70. However, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow - diving across first slip - could not hold on after Hughes failed to resist the temptation of slashing at a wide delivery.
Hughes and Madsen, whose fifty required 113 balls, continued to make the lethargic hosts pay, with the former striking Bresnan and Adil Rashid for maximums; the latter blow flew into the Rugby Stand to bring up a fine hundred.
Derbyshire’s dominance continued following tea but, after Hughes had smashed Rashid for another six over long-off to move past 150, Madsen fell seven runs shy of a century when he pushed Steven Patterson to Adam Lyth in the slips.
Yorkshire’s spirits were lifted further when Shivnarine Chanderpaul edged Rashid to Lyth at slip and, with the new ball taken, Durston could only loop a lifting Plunkett delivery to Bresnan at gully.
The day belonged to Hughes, though, with the 22-year-old’s career-best score setting a solid platform for Derbyshire to build on.