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Byline: NIGEL GARDNER at the County Ground

ANOTHER impressive performance by Simon Jones put Worcestershire back into the match at Chesterfield until a superb hundred from former wicketkeeper Jamie Pipe restored Derbyshire's advantage.

When Jones claimed his fourth wicket, under the approving gaze of National Selector Geoff Miller, Derbyshire were 157 for 7, a lead of six, but Pipe played a brilliant counter-attacking innings.

He drove and pulled the ball with complete authority to celebrate a 71 ball century - the second fastest of the season - and with former Warwickshire allrounder Graham Wagg, added 141 in just 22 overs in the afternoon.

By the time Pipe was last out for 133, Derbyshire's lead was past 200 and a gruelling day for Worcestershire ended with Daryl Mitchell falling to Wagg.

Pipe's prowess with the bat is well known at New Road but it is unlikely that he has ever played as well as he did yesterday.

The Bradford-born 'keeper could not have scripted a better return after a month out with a broken finger but until he set about the bowling, the day had belonged to Jones.

With Miller looking on, the England fast bowler undermined a solid platform for the home side with two hostile spells that appeared to have severely dented

Derbyshire's hopes of a sizeable first innings lead.

The ball that condemned Wavell Hinds to a first ball duck on debut was a snorter and Miller must be quietly confident that England could have a formidable fast bowling battery to call on for next summer's Ashes series.

"I saw Simon at Northampton earlier this season and had a chat with him then," Miller said. "I wished him all the best and hoped he could get his career back on the upward curve which he has obviously done.

"The only promise we will make to him or any other player is that we will continue to monitor their progress and keep in contact.

We now have people coming through and people in rehab who want to get back in which can only be a good thing.

"In this day and age of intensive international cricket, it's imperative that you have a big squad because there's bound to be some natural rotation through injury and fatigue."

The sight of Matt Mason continuing his rehabilitation on the outfield during the intervals underlined Miller's point and for much of yesterday, Worcestershire's attack was missing Kabir Ali who is suffering from a heavy cold.

After his opening burst which accounted for the dangerous Chris Rogers, Kabir did not bowl again until shortly before tea by which time Pipe and Wagg were hitting the ball to all parts of the ground.

It had been a different story on another overcast morning when the bowlers repeatedly beat the bat but after Rogers was lbw on the drive, Steve Stubbings and Dan Birch rode their luck until Jones switched ends to have Stubbings caught behind down the legside for 36.

It was one of the worst balls he bowled but Rikki Clarke could do little about one that took the edge to second slip before Jones found lift and movement to remove Hinds.

Birch went shortly after lunch, lbw pushing forward to Gareth Batty and after John Sadler drove loosely at Steve Magoffin to be caught at gully, Jones again conjured some bounce to have Jon Clare taken at first slip.

But from then on, it was all about Pipe.

Conditions may not have been as favourable for the seamers as on day one but it was still a stunning display of strokeplay.

Wagg also played well and the pair had added 145 in 25 overs - a Derbyshire eighth wicket record against Worcestershire - when Batty had him taken at slip by Graeme Hick.

But Pipe had not finished and he pulled Jones for another six before he edged the Welshman to slip. He had faced only 121 balls and had hit 18 fours and four sixes. The innings which has left Worcestershire fighting to avoid a first championship defeat of the season.


LIVEWIRE: Graeme Hick congratulates Simon Jones
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 8, 2008
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