A largely subdued crowd at the 3aaa County Ground at Derby watched as local rivals Leicestershire Foxes looked to continue their decent form in the T20 Blast. With his team falling around him, Tom Wells fought hard to whittle down the Falcons’ total but ultimately, it was the hosts who took victory.
It’s not often we’ve seen a Derbyshire with so much all round determination in this year’s T20 tournament: there have been matches in which they’ve batted well and bowled poorly and matches in which they’ve bowled well but batted poorly. Tonight, finally, both disciplines improved and, but for a couple of missed chances in the field, took a well-deserved win tonight.
Winning the toss, the Foxes put their hosts into bat first and saw promise in the second over as Falcons’ danger man, Tillakaratne Dilshan was bowled by Ben Raine.
The smiles quickly faded, however, as captain Wes Durston appeared and batted like a captain with little left to lose. Cool and calm, Durston made his to 50 off just 28 balls. He and Chesney Hughes put on a partnership of 71 balls before Hughes became the hosts’ second wicket.
Durston continued, peppering the ground with boundaries, reaching a 42-run partnership with Wayne Madsen and a 29-run stint with Scott Elstone.
With 88 runs under his belt, the Derbyshire T20 captain was finally removed in the 16th over, caught in the deep by Umar Akmal off Raine. His innings came off 49 balls with 9 fours and four sixes and his removal left the Falcons looking strong on 140/4.
Durston had been the main reason Derbyshire were able to finish with the enviable total of 189/7, but he was not the only cause. Elstone contributed with a solid 24 runs, while Chesney Hughes added 20 runs and Alex Hughes put on a 21 run innings that was only cut short because he slipped over and was run out.
Needing 190 in reply, Leicestershire’s openers Mark Cosgrove and Ned Eckersley looked stubborn but the partnership only lasted 21 runs before Eckersley was caught behind in the fourth over. Cosgrove showed determination with a handful of boundaries, but was removed in the 11th over with the Foxes straggling at 85/3.
Wickets did not fall steadily, but fell often enough for the Falcons to retain control throughout. When Akmal took a run that wasn’t there and found himself run out with his side still only in double figures, the visitors looked bereft of hope.
Wells came to crease, joining keeper Niall O’Brien, and proceeded to attack the Falcons’ bowlers in an attempt to chase down the total. With a modicum of luck – he was dropped on 32 – and a bucket load of skill, Wells made his way to a 25-ball half-century and onto 64* before running out of time. With five sixes and a pair of fours to his name, Wells took the Foxes closer to their target than anyone had believed possible. With four overs to go, the visitors still needed 67. The hosts eventually took victory by just 17 runs.
The defeat means Leicestershire Foxes drop a place in the North Group table to fourth. Derbyshire Falcons remain rock bottom with just the two wins.