If Saturday night’s game were a Western, both the Falcons and Foxes would be dressed in chaps, spurs and Stetsons and would walk into a saloon, order a shot of whiskey and then have a shoot-out.
The name of that saloon would be “Last Chance Saloon”. The reason being it is win or bust for both sides in front of the Sky TV cameras as both sides need to win both their remaining games and hope other results go their way to qualify for the quarter-finals. Lose and any hopes they have will be measured up for a wooden box in the town’s dusty old cemetery.
If their hopes do make it through the first act alive then the Falcons will have their decisive final meeting against Durham, or if it is Leicestershire who emerge from the first shootout with any interest apart from playing for pride in the second act it will be the Steelbacks for them.
However, both must not look beyond Saturday night’s fixture, as if they take their eyes of the ball, both can play impressive cricket and beat each other. In the return fixture earlier in the season Derbyshire ran out victors by 6 wickets and will be hoping for a similar result on Saturday.
Leicestershire arrive at the 3aaa County Ground on Saturday off the back of a victory over top of the table Worcestershire and will be brimming with confidence, hoping for a repeat and a victory which will keep their faint hopes of a quarter final appearance alive.
Their five victories have been built around the performances of their two key allrounders Ben Raine and overseas star Mohammed Nabi, when they have contributed with both bat and ball, they have come out victorious.
Derbyshire have lost one of their much vaunted overseas pace bowlers as Wahab Riaz has traded the mean streets of Derby for the sunny beaches of the Caribbean Premier League, but there is a new sheriff in town for the Falcons and he goes by the name of Nicholls, Henry Nicholls.
He brings something very different to Riaz, he brings hard hitting batting to the middle order, not 90 mph Yorkers, but if Derbyshire have missed anything this season it has been someone to clear the ropes in the middle overs.
It will be very tight and whoever is quicker on the draw in the powerplay may well be the side who comes out victorious and is left standing with any real interest in their last match.
The bookies make Derbyshire slight favourites, but they have identical records and the Foxes are coming in on a high. Whichever way it goes, it will be an intriguing night in the last chance saloon for both the Foxes and the Falcons.
When Derbyshire have performed well in this competition it has been when they have scored big runs at the top of the order and especially when Billy Godleman has scored big runs. He isn’t your stereotypical T20 opening batsman, but he is effective.
He looks to bat deep into the innings and score big runs; in just 8 innings he has scored 309 runs at an average of 51.50. In his last two innings he has set and improved his highest score in this format and surely Derbyshire will regret he did not play for the first four matches. If he had the falcons may well be already in the quarter-final spots. If Leicestershire want to be victorious, then Godleman will need to fall cheaply and quickly.
Ben Raine is a genuine all rounder, with threat with ball and bat in hand. He is a class act and has real influence on the result for his side. This campaign has seen him elevated to the top order, scoring 322 runs at a touch under 27 with a high score of 113 and a phenomenal strike rate of 174.05. If the Falcons want to limit the total they are chasing or defending against they will do well to send Raine packing quickly. He is also the second highest wicket taker for the Foxes with 10 wickets, although he can be expensive, he often bowls in the powerplay so it can be understood, but he is not to be taken lightly.
Derbyshire make one change from the squad which lost its last two games, as Wahab Riaz has departed for the CPL and is replaced by the New Zealand hard hitting batsman Henry Nicholls. This will change the makeup and balance of the team, which may see Nicholls come in for a batsman, probably Slater and then the attack supplemented by either Sharif if seam is required or of spin is wanted McKiernan.
Derbyshire Falcons squad: Gary Wilson (wk) (c), Matt Critchley, Anuj Dal, Lockie Ferguson, Billy Godleman, Alex Hughes, Matt McKiernan, Calum MacLeod, Wayne Madsen, Henry Nicholls, Ravi Rampaul, Safyaan Sharif, Ben Slater, Hardus Viljoen
Leicestershire haven’t announced their squad yet, but surely it would be folly to change a squad that has just beaten top of the table Worcestershire, so do not expect any changes from the squad or even the side that won on Friday night. A side that will be looking for runs from Cosgrove, Ackerman and Dexter, wickets from Raine, Swindells and Griffiths and includes the exciting Mohammed Nabi from Afganistan, who offers both.
Leicestershire Foxes squad: TBA
Derbyshire Falcons: LLWLWW
Leicestershire Foxes: WLWLLL
Weather and conditions
The forecast is decent for the game, with a chance of showers late on, but hopefully once the game is done and dusted, if not the chasing side will have to make sure they have Duckworth, Lewis and Stern in their thoughts, who often favour the chasing team in T20 so expect this to come into the captain’s thoughts at the toss.
The pitch has been funny at the 3aaa this season, with batting sides often finding it hard to judge a good score in the first innings, not helped by the long square boundaries either. There has been some rain in the area of the last few days, so the pitch may have a little life in it and pace for the seam bowlers.
Date: 11th August 2018
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 4/5 Northants Steelbacks Evens