Stand-in Hughes leads Derbyshire to victory after shock Welch resignation

Stand-in Hughes leads Derbyshire to victory after shock Welch resignation

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Hamish Rutherford in T20 action. Pic: Luke Adams

North Group: Derbyshire 123-6 beat Leicestershire 120 (Dexter 34; Thakor 3-17) by six wickets.

On a night of surprises for Derbyshire following the news of Greame Welch’s resignation, another quickly followed with the change on captaincy with Alex Hughes taking over the reigns from the injured Wes Durston for tonight’s fixture.

Following his successful run leading the second eleven in recent weeks, he couldn’t have wished a better start to his tenure -winning the toss and asking Mark Pettini’s side to bat first.

It just kept getting better and better in a night with more twists than the film Inception, Hughes asked former captain Madsen to open the bowling and he struck fourth ball, bowling Pettini for one, with a second wicket falling in the second over as Mark Cosgrove was bowled by Jimmy Neesham.

In fact everything Hughes touched turned to gold with the Foxes restricted to 36-4 at the end of the Powerplay.

Wickets continued to tumble throughout the Foxes’ innings, helped with exceptional Derbyshire catching, one by overseas star Neesham off Shiv Thakor to dismiss the dangerous Umar Akmal for a duck, while Chesney Hughes took a world-class catch at long-on, removing Niall O’Brien for 4 off namesake Alex.

The only Leicestershire batsmen who looked comfortable and able to score runs was Neil Dexter who played some delightful shots in his innings 33-ball 34, before falling to the ever impressive Neesham, caught in the deep by Broom in the 19th over.

With Dexter’s wicket went any chance of The Foxes posting a threatening total, being all out of the last ball for 120 when Jigar Naik was run out for 5.

Derbyshire’s reply got off to a flying start with Hamish Rutherford hitting two boundaries in the first over, however the fast pace was grounded quickly.

Losing three wickets in seven balls across the second and third over also put Clint McKay on a hat-trick, having Billy Godleman and Neil Broom both caught nicking off to the keeper and slips respectively.

Madsen played out the hat trick ball comfortably and then set about rebuilding with Chesney Hughes, the former hitting some sumptuous drives straight down the ground, finishing the Powerplay at 36-3

Madsen and Hughes continued to bat well, with the latter clubbing two handsome sixes and Madsen continuing to time the ball beautifully down the ground until the ninth over, when the introduction of Dexter saw both fall in the space of four balls.

It forced Alex Hughes and Neesham to bat sensibly looking for singles and hitting the bad ball for a boundary, pushing the side to within sight of victory needing 20 runs from the final four overs.

The loss of Hughes in the 17th over could not stop Derbyshire moving towards a second victory in the North Group, as man in form Thakor came in to hit three boundaries in four balls to propel Derbyshire to victory  with 12 balls to spare, a pleasing moment for the stand-in captain.

“Along with my debut for the club, this is the proudest moment of my career, to lead the side and win is just amazing,” Hughes said.

“I would’ve like to have been there at the end, but to be honest I really don’t care who hits the winning runs as long as the team wins.”

Man-of-the-match Jimmy Neesham was very pleased with his performance but also keen to emphasise the contribution of others too.

He said: “It’s pleasing to go out and win in that way, our guys bowled very well up front and the way our top order came out and batted set it up for myself and Alex to come out and bat the way we did and get us over the line.”

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