Having enjoyed almost two energy-sapping days in the field at the start of this match, Derbyshire were rewarded for their patience with their third Champ- ionship victory in four - and fifth place in the table - although amid rather more anxiety than they can have envisaged at five o'clock.
At that point, with the minimum 16 overs left, Derbyshire were 204 for 2. With the outfield parched and the pitch providing no great assistance to Lancashire's spinners, the target of 289 offered by the home side's declaration at lunch looked well within their scope.
But the loss of five wickets for 20 runs changed the complexion of the match and Derbyshire were grateful that Dominic Cork had the confidence to take matters into his own hands. Scoring 34 runs off just 16 balls, the England strike bowler saw them home by two wickets with three balls to spare.
Coming in at 240 for 7 with less than six overs remaining, Cork announced himself with a six off the left-arm spinner, Gary Keedy, but it was against the same bowler in the penultimate over of 65 that he swung the balance Derbyshire's way, hitting two fours and a six among 17 runs, blotting his copybook only when an ill-judged call for a second run on a misfield caused Karl Krikken to be run out.
By then, however, only two were needed off the last six balls and it would have taken an exceptionally good over by Mike Watkinson to deny them.
Derbyshire's wobble followed the departure of their captain, Dean Jones, whose third century of the Championship came in a third-wicket partnership of 198 with his predecessor, Kim Barnett. Jones sent in Phil DeFreitas next, hoping the England all-rounder would continue in the vein of his 29-ball Sunday fifty, but the move not only backfired but had a domino effect.
Against friendly bowling earlier, John Cawley finished 97 not out, setting up the declaration in the absence of the England captain, Mike Atherton, who had been called as a witness in the Imran Khan libel hearing at the High Court.Reuse content