Sunday, 20 July 2008

Northants v Derbyshire - Pro 40

That's it then. Derbyshire are absolute rubbish, have no batting, no bowling and cannot field for toffee...

No, I don't believe it, but it should pretty much guarantee we win the Pro 40 and gain Championship promotion after writing that...

Having written off Dan Birch (pictured) and Ian Hunter in the last couple of days, they produce match-winning performances with bat and ball respectively to steer us to as emphatic a run chase win as I recall in recent years.

Quite honestly, once Hinds and Birch got together, the result never seemed in doubt. How many times over the years have we seen run chases start slowly and then wickets fall when we needed to accelerate? I remember years ago watching Derbyshire chase a similar total to this at Queens Park against Middlesex in a Cup semi final. Phil Sharpe and Ron Headley were adding to the total but the run rate kept climbing. Dad and I were convinced they were happy to leave the two batsmen in and we eventually lost by a distance.

Today, Birch was simply brilliant. 76 from 59 balls with 8 fours and 4 sixes is how he has batted against club attacks and it is the first time I've thought "yeah, he could do it". Maybe his knock yesterday gave him confidence but this must have been great to watch. It was good to see Wavell again batting well at the other end. The genial Jamaican has won plaudits for the way he talks players through innings and his batting today, coupled with a steady bowling display, was also important to the success.

It was a shame when Birch was run out as he looked set for a century. That has been the start of collapses in recent years but it was equally impressive the way that Smith and Telo built another partnership to see us to victory. Although Telo fell trying to win it in style, Smith saw us to a very comfortable win, accompanied by the skipper.

So we start with a win, achieved without Langeveldt. When one considers that Pipe, Wagg and Clare were not needed today the batting looked solid (and long) again. Much more of this and we'll start to impress even some of the hardened moaners...

So back home tonight and Bangladesh A tomorrow. I would have thought that Rogers and Hinds will sit this out alongside Langeveldt and Waggy may also miss out after his shin splints. The attack may well feature White, Hunter, Clare, Needham and Doshi, while Redfern, Borrington and Patel could feature in the batting line-up alongside Telo and Smith with Birch also in the frame.

In the great scheme of things, tomorrow is a nothing match, but after a good five days in Northampton, Derbyshire have definitely got their season back on track. On July 20th, they have everything to play for in the Pro 40 and are very much in the Championship race. We've not been able to say that for a while.

Progress? Yeah, I reckon so.

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