Bright start for Chesney as he hits century for Derbyshire CCC against Northants in Barbados
CHESNEY Hughes announced his intention to bounce back after a frustrating 2012 with a century in Derbyshire's first day of competitive action on their pre-season tour to Barbados.
With Derbyshire sent in to bat on the first day of a two-day fixture against Northants at North Stars, Hughes made a sparkling 109 before retiring out at tea.
The county went on to make 313-9 and will take their turn to field on the second day of the match.
There was also a solid start from Billy Godleman on his debut for the county as he batted all the way through the first session before looping a gentle catch off the outside edge just after lunch and falling for 37, off 101 balls with three fours.
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Wes Durston was out cheaply in the morning but went back in after tea to make a lively unbeaten 65, while Ross Whiteley scored a patient 21 punctuated by two big sixes.
But it was 22-year-old Anguillan Hughes who was the day's dominant figure, reaching his century with his 17th four to go with a six. He went on to add a further boundary and faced 127 balls.
The big left-hander was largely a peripheral figure in last season's promotion-winning campaign but says he will be a wiser and better player when he returns to compete for a place this season.
A busy winter included time playing for the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean t20 competition and plenty of nets work to improve his game.
"I haven't really stopped playing. I got about three weeks off before Christmas, then I was straight into the t20s and back to Derby," he said.
"I did a little bit of a tweak to my technique which feels a lot more comfortable now, so going into the game I felt confident I would do well. It was no surprise really I felt that way out there.
"I just needed to get my bat coming on straight, get my muscle memory going and just become a better batsman. Do all the general things right and that comes with time – hitting a lot of balls, experience and not getting out in certain ways.
"It's nothing too technical, just playing, basically. I think I'm improving and looking forward to the season.
"Last year wasn't the best year but it did a lot for me as well. It got me grounded really and made me realise I had to work hard and be a lot more professional.
"Last year was a bit of a learning curve but I know I will be fine next year. I feel like I'm progressing in my game and that is going to manifest in the scorebook."
Northants' late arrival meant a delayed start but their new captain, Stephen Peters, won the toss and decided to put Derbyshire in.
That meant no extra day to allow Dan Redfern to rest his dislocated finger and so he will have to wait for his first bat of the tour.
Wayne Madsen also sat it out as he recovers from a groin strain.
Godleman and Paul Borrington made a steady start before Borrington pushed forward at Lee Daggett and was caught behind for seven at 34-1.
Durston followed five overs later, also caught behind, for nine but Godleman and Hughes took the score on to 86-2 at lunch.
With Godleman out in the fourth over after the restart, undone by a little extra bounce from Daggett, Northants had a good spell of pressure under the growing cloud, with Whiteley being particularly and unusually watchful.
There were a few plays and misses but just as Whiteley was beginning to break loose, he was caught just inside the deep backward square boundary at 163-4.
Hughes, however, was imperious as he accelerated to his century shortly before tea.
Richard Johnson was bowled by Matt Spriegel without playing a shot in the over before tea, meaning that, technically, Derbyshire lost two wickets at 210. Spriegel, the off-spinner signed from Surrey in the winter, also had Jon Clare stumped after Tom Poynton was lbw to give Daggett a third wicket.
David Wainwright was bowled to give David Willey an overdue and deserved first wicket.
Durston revelled in his second chance, his 63 coming off only 96 balls with eight fours and a six to round off a good first day's work for Derbyshire.