Billy Godleman’s 137 inspired Derbyshire to victory in their opening match of the Royal London One-day Cup at Edgbaston. Captain Godleman was the mainstay of his side’s score of 357-8, batting for 45 overs and contributing to an opening stand of 129 with Ben Slater, who himself added 69.
In reply, Warwickshire lost early wickets and despite a wonderful effort from Sam Hain, who made his sixth List A hundred, they were always behind the rate and succumbed to defeat by 57 runs.
The hosts won the toss and Jeetan Patel inserted Derbyshire, but that was a decision he was soon regretting as Godleman and his partner Slater got their side away to a flyer. In 19 overs the pair put together a partnership of 129, in which they made the Warwickshire bowlers toil in the early summer sunshine.
By the time Aaron Thomason came into the attack, the Bears had used five bowlers. Thomason did make the breakthrough however, deceiving Slater with a slower ball and having him caught by Adam Hose for a well-constructed 69.
If the Warwickshire attack thought that would bring some respite, they were wrong. Wayne Madsen, who scored a century on this ground a couple of weeks ago in the Championship, was in no mood to hang around. His innings of 58 included four sixes, the former Derbyshire captain taking a particular liking to Keith Barker with three of his maximums coming from the Warwickshire seamer.
Madsen tried one shot too many, though, and was lbw to Jeetan Patel trying to reverse sweep the spinner. Godleman was joined by Matt Critchley, who continued the attacking exploits of those who had gone before him. He hit two sixes from the 39thover, bowled by Oliver Hannon-Dalby, and at 269-2 with eleven overs remaining, a score of 380 plus was on the cards.
The Derbyshire middle-order faltered, though, undone by Jonathan Trott of all people. The veteran bowled with a persistent line and length during his spell, and was rewarded with figures of 4-65.
Firstly he outdid Critchley, having him stumped by Tim Ambrose for 35, before a couple of overs later taking two wickets in three balls – Alex Hughes caught by Hannon-Dalby trying a reverse-sweep and then Luis Reece removed for a duck.
In the over in-between Trott’s heroics, Godleman reached three figures from 101 balls. The opener had been aggressive early on, but settled down to play the mature innings required and allow his teammates to play expansively around him.
Hardus Viljoen was run out but Godleman continued his onslaught, hitting Trott for three consecutive boundaries at the start of the 46th, two of which were sixes, but he was eventually out later that over run out by Hose attempting a quick single.
Trott took his fourth wicket in the penultimate over, with Safyaan Sharif holing out to Hose, and could have had a fifth from the final ball of the innings had Keith Barker held onto a catch on the boundary.
It was not to be. Derbyshire finished on 357-8.
Warwickshire needed a good start, chasing down their opponents highest List A score since 1991. They didn’t get it.
Ed Pollock hit a couple of early fours, but then chipped an Olivier delivery to Viljoen at mid-on. Duanne Olivier had his second not long after in Trott who had looked in good touch, even displaying a vintage straight drive, when he feathered behind to Daryn Smit. At 20-2 Warwickshire were in some trouble.
Hain and Ian Bell were the men tasked with getting the chase back on track, and they made a good fist of it for thirteen overs. Hain was in excellent form hitting a lovely six over mid-on, the highlight of his 41 ball half-century. Bell was less fluent and eventually undone by Critchley for 18, the former England international not at his best on this flat wicket.
Hose joined Hain and was watchful early on but looked to be getting into his groove, hitting Critchley for a straight six. Though not long after, on 33, he sent the ball straight back into the hands of Ravi Rampaul, after a partnership of 75, to leave the Bears 173-4.
Ambrose soon followed for four, the wicket-keeper unable to carry on his fabulous Championship form from so far this season. Hain pressed on though, keeping his sides hopes of a victory alive by reaching his hundred from just 94 balls. His knock had looked effortless at times and will do him no harm in his pursuit of a potential England call-up.
He was running out of partners, though, Thomason the latest to go, caught behind by Smit off Reece.
Hain was now the key wicket and, knowing that he was now batting with the tail, he attempted to go big down the ground but was caught by Rampaul on the boundary to give Reece his second victim.
Jeetan Patel came and went for eleven, lbw to Viljoen, and at 228-8 the match seemed over.
Barker had other ideas, however. Along with Olly Stone, a partnership of 59 was constructed. Barker was the aggressor, but Stone more than played his part in an entertaining period of play that at least gave the home fans something to smile about. Stone eventually perished for 16, Sharif with his first wicket for Derbyshire.
Barker continued with his attacking stroke play, reaching a quick-fire 48, but his partner Hannon-Dalby was caught by Madsen for five – again off Sharif – to leave him two short of a half-century and his side bowled out for exactly 300.
Warwickshire centurion Hain felt they didn’t quite get it right with bat or ball ‘I think we were a little bit off the pace on both fronts really, we lost wickets in clusters and probably bowled them 20-30 too much.’
Hain is still confident that his team can turn their campaign around: ‘I’d back our team to chase anything down,” he said, “But it is what it is, and we’ll come back and put it right’.
‘We won the first game last year and didn’t win many after that.
“The boys are playing some good cricket. There’s a good vibe going around the side and we just want to play with freedom.”