Anuj Dal led the way for Derbyshire’s bowlers, claiming 3-42, as the attack claimed six wickets on a difficult first day of the LV= County Championship fixture against Gloucestershire.
Ollie Price followed up Championship hundreds against Yorkshire and Worcestershire this season with a career-best 125 not out, receiving excellent support from captain Graeme van Buuren (78) in a fifth-wicket stand of 157, which helped their side close on 333 for six.
Dal was the most successful Derbyshire bowler with three for 42 from 16 overs. But it was a draining day in the field for the visitors in energy-sapping heat.
Gloucestershire, who gave a first class debut to 22-year-old Exeter-born leg-spinner Ed Middleton, opted to bat first, despite initially sultry, overcast conditions. The decision looked justified when Ben Charlesworth and Chris Dent took the total to 32 from the first seven overs with only the odd alarm.
Sam Conners bowled four tight overs from the Ashley Down Road End for just seven runs, but new signing Pat Brown struggled to find the right line and conceded 21 from his opening three overs.
The floodlights were already on when just half an hour into the match the umpires considered the light too poor for play to continue. Shortly afterwards rain started to fall and soon the heavy covers were brought on.
Thirteen overs were lost either side of an early lunch before play resumed at 1pm. Batting conditions soon improved, with increasingly bright sunshine, and Dent, unbeaten on eight before the break, played more aggressively.
The experienced left-hander had moved comfortably to 41, off 72 balls, with 6 fours, when edging a back-foot defensive shot off Luis Reece, in his first over, through to wicketkeeper Brooke Guest.
The breakthrough ended an opening stand of 80 in the 20th over. Left-arm seamer Reece struck again in his second over when Charlesworth, on 30, looked to play into the leg side and got a leading edge which carried to Wayne Madsen at second slip.
At 85 for two, Gloucestershire needed to rebuild. Price and James Bracey did so to good effect, adding 43 in 12 overs before Dal pierced Bracey’s apparently immaculate defensive stroke and bowled him for 23.
Price had shown his confidence with an early reverse sweep for four shortly after off-spinner Alex Thomson had been introduced from the Ashley Down Road End. Miles Hammond got off the mark with an edged boundary to third man off Dal and by tea the pair had put together a fourth-wicket stand of 33, taking the total to 161 for three from 42 overs.
Brown had figures of none for 36 from six overs at the interval. But the former Worcestershire seamer soon notched his first Derbyshire wicket when Hammond top edged a short-arm pull shot and skyed a catch to Guest, departing for 21.
He was the fourth member of Gloucestershire top order to lose his wicket, having made a promising start and at 169 for four the hosts needed stability. Price supplied it and moved to his fifth Championship half-century of the season with a two through the covers off Brown, having faced 71 balls and hit 8 fours.
Skipper van Buuren was soon busily milking singles while dispatching the occasional bad ball to the boundary, helping to build a half-century stand in 14 overs with Price in what was now glorious early evening sunshine.
Price laced his innings with some sumptuous straight drives, while van Buuren reached a 68-ball fifty with his second six, lofted high over wide long-on off Thomson. By then Gloucestershire had bagged a first batting point and were looking to accelerate against a tiring bowling attack.
The hundred partnership was brought up by a Price two off Conners, which took him into the eighties. A series of sweeps and cuts off spinners Thomson and Mark Watt saw him reach three figures off 155 balls, with his 13th four, handsomely struck off Thomson.
Price then moved past his previous career-best score of 115. Dal ended van Buuren’s enterprising knock by bowling him with less than four overs left in the day and, with the second new ball, had Zafar Gohar caught behind to lift Derbyshire spirits.
Derbyshire all-rounder Luis Reece said: “It was a tough day for us in those conditions and I thought the lads really stuck to the task well.
“The two late wickets gave us a real boost. We will still have a new ball to bowl with in the morning and we need to make good use of it.
“Today when the ball went soft it was very difficult to make anything happen on what was a docile pitch and batting appeared to become easy.
“Ollie Price and Graeme van Buuren both played extremely well and it was that one partnership that really hurt us.
“They obviously expect the pitch take spin more as the match progresses.
“But if we can restrict them to less than 400 tomorrow and then bat well ourselves we will still be in the game.”