Despite rain threatening, the crowd rolled into a sold out Queen’s Park to watch already-eliminated Derbyshire take on desperate-for-a-win Yorkshire in the final stages of the first round of the Natwest T20 Blast. The rain that went on to disturb other games further south did not stick in Chesterfield, and a beautiful day brought a riveting match.
Winning the toss, the Falcons sought to make the most of a bit of green on the pitch and put their visitors into bat first. It paid off as the hosts simply got the bowling right, leaving Yorkshire with 146-9 from their twenty overs.
Determined captain Wes Durston wasted little time in attacking, opening the bowling himself and proving as effective with his spin as ever. The wickets of Adil Rashid and Alex Lees in the third over and Andrew Gale in the fifth left Yorkshire looking shaky at 16-3.
Jonny Bairstow and Glenn Maxwell started to rebuild, with a partnership that reached 64 runs before Bairstow swept Greg Cork and was caught at short fine leg by Nathan Rimmington. Maxwell was next to go, bowled by Shiv Thakor, bringing Tim Bresnan into the game.
Bresnan reached just four runs before Rimmington had him caught by Tom Knight in the 17th, leaving the Vikings on 103-6.
It was here that Jack Leaning, joined by Liam Plunkett, started to put his foot on the gas. By the time he was removed for 37, lbw to Thakor, the visitors had 140. A little tumble of wickets in the final few overs saw them reach a total that had looked fairly unlikely at six wickets down, but was still not insurmountable.
In reply, the Falcons started well once again but yet again saw their batting stutter somewhat and might have let it slip in a similar fashion to that defeat at Trent Bridge on Friday night.
Durston marched in and started the innings with a hefty six but only reached 11 before being bowled by Matt Fisher, playing just his second T20.
Some fielding mistakes by the Vikings and a general determination from the Falcons saw the hosts stay on top of the target for the bulk of the innings. Clearly conscious of their previous struggles in the middle order, Thakor was pushed up the order and came in above Madsen, but a mistake by the four-day captain – calling for a run that wasn’t there – had Thakor run out and saw the Falcons start to stutter somewhat.
What had looked like an easy victory started to look more like a close finish, until Alex Hughes came to the crease. His blinding six off Plunkett in the 18th over pushed Derbyshire into a winning position and a four in following over put the scores level.
They had to endure a couple of dot balls, but one final boundary in the 19th over off young Fisher saw the Falcons safely home by four wickets.
Yorkshire Vikings needed victory today and, without it, are all but out of the Blast. The Falcons’ tournament was done before the start of play but a final victory for pride at their most beautiful of out-grounds, and in front of a sellout crowd, deserves applause for the side. Derbyshire got their bowling absolutely right and the rest followed from there.