ALL the ingredients were there for a big occasion at the County Ground yesterday: marquees, extra beer tents, ice cream vans, and not least a sizeable crowd anticipating an enjoyable day out. Unfortunately, it all went wrong when someone forgot to mow the lawn.
One-day cricket is not much of a spectacle when the ball is on top, and this one seamed around like a breathalyser case on a pitch with so much grass that Derbyshire could have put it out to tender for grazing rights.
A damp, warmish atmosphere also encouraged some wobble through the air. Although Derbyshire could cobble together only 128 in 43.5 overs after being put in, they nearly managed to defend it. Kent, though, recovered from 28 for 3 and 85 for 5 to fiddle their way through into this morning's semi-final draw by five wickets with 12.3 overs to spare.
Almost half the Derbyshire runs came from Dominic Cork, who had made 62 off 74 balls, including nine fours, when he was seventh out with the total at 86. Curiously, while every other batsman in this match made regular contact with thin air, Cork scarcely failed to middle it until miscuing Martin McCague to mid-on. Mark Ealham took four of the last five wickets for 10 runs in 8.5 overs.
Brian Bolus, representing the England selectors, saw Cork take 2 for 24 from his 12 overs and, with Craig White's place up for discussion this weekend, would not have been unimpressed. Cork was also performing under the handicap of a bout of gastric flu, although the discussion about his fitness for an England place will revolve more around his knee. He has had complications after a winter operation and was limping fairly heavily at times yesterday.
Derbyshire would not have considered themselves out of it defending only 128, a feeling reinforced when Phillip DeFreitas had Trevor Ward caught in the gully without a run scored. However, Carl Hooper supplied the initial bandages and the fact that the match-clinching Kent innings (from Graham Cowdrey) was 32 not out in 35 overs just about summed up the entertainment.
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