Friday, 18 August 2017
Derbyshire v Worcestershire T20
Worcestershire 98 (Tahir 4-17, Cotton 2-14, Viljoen 2-20)
Derbyshire won by 48 runs
Quarter finalists, for the first time since 2005.
It is apposite, on a day when one of television's great entertainers, Bruce Forsyth, passed away, to use one of his catch phrases tonight.
Didn't they do well?
In true Derbyshire style, they kept us worrying to the end of the group stage and at the half way point in this match there were a lot of barbed and premature comments flying around Twitter. Only a battling 55 from Wayne Madsen had given us any sort of total, aided in turn by Daryn Smit and Matt Henry. Yet only Wayne and Matt Critchley had managed any fluency on a wicket that appeared slow and offered turn, so perhaps the hard graft at the innings end would make the difference.
At least that's what I told myself between innings and so it transpired. Once again the magnificent Madsen took a wicket, this time the visitors skipper, Joe Leach, second ball. Yet we were all at the ground, listening to the radio or following on line and wondering if the back up bowling was going to let us down, with so few runs to play with.
To quote that great cricketing sage, Billy Ocean, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and this was a night when the South African influence was strong. Hardus Viljoen bowled fast and accurately, not always words used in the same sentence this summer, and key to the win was his removal of D'Oliveira and Cox in a four over spell in which three of those overs were consecutive. Maybe this is what he needed, a chance to get his rhythm and crank it up, rather than four spells of an over each.
Then came Imran Tahir (pictured), who once again bowled with superb control and followed his four overs for just thirteen at Leicester with four overs for only seventeen and four wickets tonight. I get the impression from many years of Tahir watching that there are days when the muse is with him and he is irresistible. There is a greater spring in his run up on such days, greater purpose in the run up and better returns as a result.
This was such a night and he blew the visitors middle order away. Once Ross Whiteley had been caught (much to his annoyance) the rest folded as befitted a side that has had a poor T20 summer. Due credit to the 'locally reared' wicket of the dangerous Joe Clarke, who was going like a train before being caught by Callum Brodrick from the bowling of Ben Cotton.
Ben later finished things when George Rhodes was caught by Matt Henry and Derbyshire could celebrate their first quarter-final since 2005 and only our second since the advent of the competition.
It is fair to mention the captaincy of Daryn Smit, who mixed things up well and saw his bowlers concede only three leg byes in the innings. Such discipline is key in this format, when you cannot afford to give free hits and extra balls to the opposition.
More than anything tonight I am pleased for John Wright and Kim Barnett. Kim had the foresight to bring in a man of proven international pedigree as coach and the quarter final berth is just reward for a summer where we have played some purposeful and entertaining cricket.
Wright has brought his international nous and IPL pedigree with him, been well assisted by Dominic Cork and has seen the players respond to his management style. Nor should Steve Stubbings be overlooked, batting coach at Northamptonshire last season, when they won the competition, now in the quarter-finals with his own county.
It hasn't been perfect, of course, as we all know, but there's time to discuss where we can improve before our now guaranteed home quarter final against Hampshire, next Tuesday. Gary Wilson will be back for that and, such is this Derbyshire side, we could either fall flat on our faces or reach the promised land of finals day.
Tonight, and all weekend, we can celebrate though.
Quarter-finalists. We got there, but the reigning champions didn't. Nor did Lancashire, nor Yorkshire. We won eight of our games in a very strong group and only played the worst side, Durham, once.
By heck, we'll take that, won't we?
At least for now...