Ben Slater hit an unbeaten 148 but couldn’t prevent Derbyshire slipping to defeat at Northamptonshire, who all but secured their place in the One-Day Cup quarter finals, racing to their target of 273 with seven wicket and eight overs to spare, Josh Cobb hitting 88.
Cobb and Ben Duckett, who continued his fine form with 70, shared an opening stand of 116, from which Northants never looked back. Number three Rob Keogh added a further unbeaten half century as they cruised to victory.
Slater’s 148 underpinned a Derbyshire innings, but after a sedate opening half, they could never truly kick on. Wayne Madsen’s 39 proved the second highest score and a final total of 272-7 looked short and so it proved.
With Northants’ having completed their eight group games, they sit second with nine points, and with a sizable net run-rate advantage would need Durham, Warwickshire and Nottingham all to win, with the latter two also having to overtake them on run-rate a NRR of 0.784.
Chasing 272 on a used pitch, that was showing signs of spin throughout, Northants made light work, Cobb and Duckett putting on 72 in the powerplay as Duckett continued what has been a remarkable couple of weeks, whilst Cobb’s 88 was his third half century in four One-Day Cup innings.
“Very good win from the boys; to finish it with eight overs to spare is an outstanding win,” Cobb said.
“A few of us were saying 240 would be about par, and they were a bit over. I thought they potentially could have got a bit more, but the way Glees came back and took wickets hurt them and they were restricted to what was probably just about par.
“But the way we went about it was excellent. Ben Duckett was outstanding again, we all know what purple patch he’s going through, it was nice being at the other end to him, and once he got out Rob Keogh got out and carried on so we were pretty clinical in that department.
“Wakers was saying we’ve not [qualified] for a few years, I think we’ve got one foot in so would be exceptional to be going through in two competitions, especially where our bodies are at, there’s a lot of sore boys, ice going on, we’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Duckett is enjoying a dream season, having hit scores of 98 and 121 in the final two games of the opening block of One-Day Cup matches. He then took that form into the England Lions series, whilst also adding knocks of 87 and today’s 70, taking him to 1,976 runs in all formats this season, of which 790 have come in the last ten games, all in T20 or 50 over cricket.
Together with Cobb, Duckett took an early attack to the visitors bowlers, the pair both hitting Ben Cotton for six in the seventh over, with Shiv Thakor also going the distance. Duckett showed his power, placement with drives through the covers, and invention with the scoop.
Duckett went to his half century whilst the century stand with Cobb was brought up in the 17th over, but Duckett fell in the next, taking Thakor for three successive boundaries, before being bowled going for a fourth.
His departure didn’t halt the Northants momentum, however, as Cobb swept his second six to go to fifty, whilst Keogh was quickly into his stride as the target was reduced to double figures with over 20 overs still remaining.
Cobb’s only Northants’ century came against Derbyshire in this competition last season, but he fell 12 short on a repeat, in a bizarre dismissal, off Jimmy Neesham, the bat flying out his hand as the ball looped to midwicket.
Alex Wakely hit three fours and a six in a run a ball 26 as Northants continued to race towards the line, Keogh becoming the third half centurion at better than a run a ball. Even after Wakely chipped Matt Critchley to cover, Adam Rossington smashed Cotton for two straight sixes, the second of which sealed victory in the 42nd over, Keogh finishing 63 not out.
The result, and the manner of the chase, meant that Slater’s exceptional innings was rather overshadowed. The 24 year old completed his third One-Day century of the season, and his career, and went on to post Derbyshire’s third highest List A score of all time, and the highest against a first-class county.
His unbeaten 148 from 159 balls set the perfect platform for a healthy total, but a lack of support proved costly, only fellow opener Billy Godleman and number three Wayne Madsen made any contribution of note with 38 and 39 respectively.
The visitors were perhaps left to rue a patient opening half of their innings as, after 58 runs came from the powerplay, the departure of Godleman, reverse sweeping Graeme White to backward point, only 54 came from the next 15 as they limped to halfway 112-1, White in particular restricting scoring.
Slater’s half century came from 73 balls and, although he did start to accelerate, he was soon losing partners as White returned for his second spell and saw Madsen skew a catch to cover, but at 199-2 with ten overs to go, Derbyshire would have been hoping for more than 73 from the last ten.
However, Gleeson’s second spell halted any momentum in its tracks: Neil Broom bowled, before Shiv Thakor’s off stump was sent cartwheeling and Neesham was trapped LBW first ball, with him also removing Wes Durston’s off stump.
Gleeson’s last three overs did cost 39, including two sets of five wides as Slater ensured they got up to 272, but given the way Northants chased the score, it proved a long way off a winning total. Derbyshire now need to beat Lancashire tomorrow and hope results go their way to qualify.