Saturday, 21 May 2016
Lancashire v Derbyshire T20
Derbyshire 132-1 (Rutherford 71 not, Durston 30, Broom 25 not)
Derbyshire won by nine wickets
Since the competition began, there have been few 'special' performances by Derbyshire in T20 cricket. Sure, we have won a few games here and there, with someone producing a little bit extra to get us across the line, sometimes by the skin of our teeth.
Yet today was pretty much a complete performance. Bowling well, fielding tigerishly and then batting with a degree of elan seldom seen in our colours in this format. Sometimes we bowl well, then stumble with the bat; others we do the opposite. Today, in a game that I wrote last night would benchmark us for the season, we set a very high standard indeed.
I really don't care that Lancashire chose to omit one or two players, nor that Jos Buttler and Martin Guptill are still in India. Nor that they lost a bowler after one ball to a nasty injury, because all you can do, at any level of any sport, is to beat the team that are lined up against you. We thrashed them today, end of story.
It was a display that was highlighted by pivotal roles for our three Kiwis. Call them the Otago Musketeers, The Three Amigos or whatever, but they all did a great job today. Jimmy Neesham took two wickets and effected a run out, Hamish Rutherford (pictured) blazed away as you hope your overseas batsman will do, while Neil Broom just played a professional innings. He didn't try to match Rutherford shot for shot, simply gave him the strike and admired it from the best seat in the house. It enabled us to win at a canter, with almost six overs to spare.
Yet it was a team effort. Shiv Thakor bowled two fine Powerplay overs, while Andy Carter did as good a job as Neesham at either end of the innings. In between times, Alex Hughes bowled a fine spell in which he removed the dangerous Petersen, while Matt Critchley was quite outstanding. Until his last ball went for six, he had conceded only thirteen runs in 23 balls, thoroughly justifying his sage selection ahead of Ben Cotton. Horses for courses and the latter's turn will come, but the young leg-spinner played a major part in a youthful - and more than useful - Derbyshire attack.
It was impressively disciplined, with only three wides as extras in the innings, as the home side struggled to reach the fence. A lot of work goes into such displays, work that deserves recognition tonight.
Would we stumble in the pursuit? No, because Wes Durston came out with guns blazing and raced to 30 from 15 balls before being caught. It brought in Neil Broom, perhaps to keep the left/right combo going in the middle, and he ticked over nicely at around a run-a-ball. It was the sort of knock we cried out for someone to play last year and Broom's innings was simply workmanlike and professional, exactly what we needed.
At the other end, Rutherford hit 71 from 40 balls, as only Steven Croft kept a lid on the carnage. What will go down as my Tweet of the day came from the club, saying that you could hear a pin drop at Old Trafford as the Kiwis cantered to victory. There have been enough noisy and boorish defeats in front of Lanky-lanky-lanky-lanky Lancashire fans to make this one quite special.
The challenge now is to make this the standard. If we can do, then a summer of excitement beckons, showcased by our Triwis but underpinned by a fine effort from what is actually a really young team. Perhaps in the next game we will come crashing down to earth, or maybe we will deliver a similar display of consummate professionalism. I know no more than you, but I will savour this one tonight, a win against the reigning champions in their own back yard.
Back to the four-day stuff at Derby tomorrow, quite a contrast, I would think.
George Formby, Gracie Fields, Kathleen Ferrier, LS Lowry, Neville Cardus, Tom Finney and Andrew Flintoff...your boys took one hell of a beating today.
Your day will come again, but tonight is a good one to be a Derbyshire fan.
Well done to all involved and for putting smiles on faces tonight that I hope are reflected in your comments later.
PS Still unbeaten...