Patched-up Derbyshire get better as time goes on against twenty20 rivals Warwickshire in Barbados
PUT up against Warwickshire twice in less than 24 hours, Derbyshire just got better.
They were beaten by the Bears by four wickets in the first meeting at the 3Ws Oval on Saturday evening but took their revenge on Sunday morning with victory by two runs at the Kensington Oval.
Having pushed Warwickshire close enough to qualify for the Barbados Cup semi-finals with the best net run-rate of the three counties who were beaten in their first match, winning the rematch put the Falcons through to last night's final, to face Nottinghamshire, who beat Yorkshire in the other semi-final.
That was quite an achievement for a squad cut to the bone by a series of injuries. Most of them are niggles that it was felt were not worth the risk of making worse but Paul Borrington took a blow close to the eye socket in the field in the first match and may have to come home early.
Wes Durston was another withdrawal yesterday morning with a sore back, joining Wayne Madsen (groin), Dan Redfern (finger), David Wainwright (back), Jon Clare (knee) and Tom Knight (shoulder) on the sidelines.
In that context, Derbyshire did well to make the Bears work as hard as they did for the first win, especially as they made only 128-9 after being put in.
No batsman stayed around long enough to make a significant impact as they were well restrained by spin, Laurie Evans taking 3-24 with Ateeq Javid and Paul Best picking up a wicket each. Borrington, with 24 off 27 balls, was the top scorer.
When Warwickshire made a brash start to their reply through Darren Maddy and Jim Troughton, it seemed the game was heading for a swift finish at 54-1 midway through the seventh over.
Troughton went on to 42 off 31 balls but 3-25 from Durston and three stumpings from Tom Poynton kept the Falcons interested.
At 78-5 midway through the 11th, Warwickshire were still in control but it was only from the final ball of the penultimate over that they clinched victory.
Derbyshire were 10 or 15 runs short of making it a real contest but arrived at the Kensington Oval in good heart for a 9am start – though hearts collectively sank a little when the first 11 balls of their innings, after being put in again, produced not a single run.
Ben Slater, given his chance by the injury list, responded with an encouraging 15 off 23 balls but it was when Poynton came in to join Ross Whiteley that the Falcons' challenge really took shape.
Whiteley reached his half-century with his fifth six off his 29th ball and cleared the ropes again from the next delivery he faced.
Poynton joined in with an unbeaten 35 off 23 balls with three fours and their fourth-wicket stand of 87 in 40 balls transformed the contest.
When Whiteley miscued a paddle shot to third man and was out for 63, off 38 balls with two fours and six sixes, Derbyshire were 144-4 in the 19th and on their way to a competitive 153-6.
With Troughton and Varun Chopra solid at 105-1 after 14 overs, Warwickshire were favourites but Whiteley struck with his first and third balls to remove Troughton (47) and Rikki Clarke (0), then Chopra (51) top-edged a sweep at Chesney Hughes and at 113-4 with four overs to go, the outcome was up for grabs again.
Boundaries came at good times and not always cleanly for the Bears to leave 10 needed off the final over but Mark Turner rose to the challenge. He allowed only three singles off the first three deliveries and followed that with two dot balls and that was game over.
It was an outstanding effort from Derbyshire and – who knows – might just give them an added lift for April 10 and the Championship season-opener at Edgbaston.
"The wicket was pretty tough – a bit two-paced – but it was just a matter of sticking in there and getting used to the pace of it," said Whiteley.
"I always fancy myself against the spinners but you have to leave it as late as possible to try to go strong, as long as you've got wickets in the bag.
"It was a good total and we definitely backed ourselves to do it from there. If we took a couple of wickets and stuck in there, we were always in with a chance.
"Twenty20 can change so quickly and we backed our bowlers, who did a great job. Mark Turner has worked so hard this winter and he's shown in the first couple of games he is running in with good pace and good accuracy.
"Playing Warwickshire in the first game of the Championship, it's nice to get one up against them here."