Derbyshire duly completed their first win of the season at Bristol by seven wickets. Set 142 to win when Gloucestershire scored a defiant 411 in their second innings, they reached their target in the 34th over with Billy Godleman top scoring with 51.
It will be remembered as Martin Guptill’s match, mainly for the terrific display of hitting in Derbyshire’s first innings which took the New Zealand World Cup hero to 227, but also for the four excellent catches he took in the home county’s second innings.
Derbyshire fans will also point to the nine wickets which pace bowler Mark Footitt took in the match, including 6/94 in Gloucestershire’s second innings. The hostile left-armer swung the ball both ways and looked here in the sort of impressive form which made him the leading Championship wicket taker in 2014.
This morning Gloucestershire resumed their second innings on 253/6, requiring a further 17 runs to avoid an innings defeat and make Derbyshire bat again. With the new ball only three overs old and cloud cover following morning rain the visitors had high hopes that they would bowl the remaining home batsmen out cheaply and claim the win which has looked likely since the end of the second day.
But overnight batsmen fellow New Zealanders Hamish Marshall and James Fuller had other ideas. Fuller was particularly adventurous hitting 51 in 76 balls before he was bowled by Footitt with the score on 347. Two overs later Footitt accounted for Marshall for 79 scored in a patient 190 ball stay.
Marshall was the left-arm seamer’s fifth victim of the innings and Guptill’s third catch. With lunch taken at 379/8 and Craig Miles and Liam Norwell, holders of Gloucestershire’s record tenth wicket stand, at the crease the home county’s hopes of survival were still just alive.
Soon after lunch Norwell was caught behind for 17 from Footit’s bowling with the Gloucestershire lead on 136 and Matt Taylor was the victim of another catch by Guptill without scoring, leaving, Miles on 31 not out.
Setting off in pursuit of their target of 142, Derbyshire looked initially as if they would reach their target in white- ball fashion, Fuller and Miles proving particularly expensive. Godelman made his 51 from 62 balls before he was caught off Taylor. The more sedate Ben Slater and Wayne Madsen both fell to Fuller but it was, inevitably, Guptill who saw Derbyshire home with 3 more sixes in his not out 31.
While the Midlanders will take great heart from their victory, Gloucestershire will take some solace from the fact that the game was rather more even than the result might suggest. The fact is that Guptill was the main difference between the two sides. Had Geraint Jones held on to an easy slip chance offered by the Kiwi when he was 57 the match outcome may have been different.
After the game Gloucestershire received the news which they had been waiting for which more than made up for today’s loss. This was the approval of their planning application for floodlights which will mean the continuation of international cricket at Nevil Road.