After an exciting finish to the first semi, and a pitch that appeared to have slowed down somewhat, it was expected that the second semifinalbetween Derbyshire and Essex would be less interesting than the first.
And so it was. Derbyshire, on their first ever appearance to finals day, bowled well and kept Essex to a fairly average 160. Sadly, however, the superb skills of Essex captain Simon Harmer and his fellow bowler Aron Nijjar put paid to any dreams the Falcons may have had of defending the total. Meaning that, The only silverware to head back to Derby tonight will be the Mascot derby trophy.
All credit to Essex, though, who played an excellent game particularly with the ball and thoroughly deserve to be in tonight’s final.
It all started well for Essex with the bat, as Cameron Delport and Tom Westley put on an opening partnership of 78 runs. It was Alex Hughes, who would go on to get figures of 2-24 and make a valiant show with the bat, that made the breakthrough, having Delport caught in the deep by Luis Reece for 5.
Wickets fell at a decent rate for the Falcons, seeing Essex three wickets down before they reached three figures.
Westley added 39 to the total, before he became one of Reece’s two wickets for the day. Ravi Bopara also came to the party with 20 runs, before Derbyshire’s own Ravi – Ravi Rampaul – had him caught by Reece, leaving Essex at 141-5 with just over two wickets to go.
In the break, Derbyshire surely had a right to dream. As they started their reply and made 15 off the first over, they definitely had a right to dream.
But Essex, too, had a right to dream and Harmer and Nijjar saw to it that the dream became a reality.
When Derbyshire’s impressive first partnership, between captain Billy Godleman and Reece, was broken when Reece edged behind off Aaron Beard it only brought Wayne Madsen to crease.
He and Godleman looked determined, but the partnership only reached 11. Harmer found some turn in the pitch and bowled Godleman for 9. Madsen then hit two 4s and a 6, but was then removed by a beautiful Nijjar ball for 17.
It was the 5th over and the Falcons were 48-3.
From there it was a fairly easy tumble of wickets. Leus Du Plooy went, then Anuj Dal immediately followed and soon after Derbyshire were into the lower order bar Hughes. There was a small smatter of applause as the Falcons reached 3 figures, but everyone knew the dream was over.
They eventually slumped to a mere 126 for their full tally of wickets.
Harmer and Nijjar are deserving of the bulk of the credit, Harmer taking 4 wickets for just 19 runs and Nijjar 2-26.
“We haemorrhaged runs at the start, but our spinners put a lot of balls in the right areas and got our rewards,” Simone Harmer said after the game.
“When you take two wickets in two balls as I did it does change the momentum, and I thought we had things under control after that.”
Essex will now meet Worcestershire in tonight’s final, while Derbyshire can say that they reached finals day at least once.
A very disappointed Billy Godleman spoke to the press, saying: “It’s disappointing to lose, but the better team won.”
“We are very proud, very happy with the accomplishment of making it to Finals Day,” he added. “It’s obviously bittersweet at the moment, because you get here and you’re part of the crowd and you think you just win two games of cricket and you get to lift the trophy.
“But I think once 24/48 hours passes by the real context of what we’ve done as a club.”