Cricket: Opening brutality punches Derbyshire to welcome final

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . .210

Derbyshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .214-2

Derbyshire win by eight wickets

THE Test and County Cricket Board's nightmare, that tickets would have be shovelled off to Hoover for their next promotion if Derbyshire met Leicestershire in the Benson and Hedges final on 10 July, was averted. Derbyshire did their bit, slugging out the holders with an almost brutal batting display that took them home by eight wickets with four overs to spare.

Derbyshire have a membership of less than 2,000 and Leicestershire not that many more. Even for this semi- final, on a hot summer's day, the crowd was less than 6,000 and many of them, judging from the noise, had come to cheer the Cobblers. They had an unhappy day, Northamptonshire putting down two vital catches and batting without their usual resilience, while Curtly Ambrose was not the expected force.

Whoever won the toss did not need to look at a rich green surface before deciding to field on a sunny and already very warm morning. The pitch was typically Racecourse, slow but true, and a batsman's principal difficulty was timing his forcing shots. Alan Fordham and Nigel Felton had reached 18 off 10 overs, when both departed in two overs, victims of Devon Malcolm, the one bowler who still managed to give the ball some fizz.

Enter Rob Bailey and Allan Lamb; while Bailey dropped anchor, Lamb opened rapid fire, 60 off 69 balls, an exciting demonstration of class and precision. His six fours fairly whistled off the bat.

It needed an exceptional catch shortly before lunch by Karl Krikken, at full stretch diving to his right to hold the ball one-handed, to remove Lamb, 99 having been added in 22 overs. Some straight bowling by Dominic Cork, and good catching from the ring, meant the last seven wickets were restricted to 89 runs, Bailey spending some two hours over his 51.

Derbyshire are thought to be well- equipped for this competition and it is to their credit that they have reached this far - albeit with a bowl- out in the quarter-final - without their overseas player, Ian Bishop, since the first round, and without the durable Ole Mortensen in this match. Add considerable monetary problems, the loss of their resident guru, Philip Russell, at the end of the season, and a Cup final comes as a considerable boost to an embattled club, kept alive in the past only by the generosity of the Duke of Devonshire.

Their assault on a target of 211 would have been made more difficult had Northamptonshire been able to hang on their catches. Kim Barnett had scored 10 when he was dropped behind off Ambrose in the ninth over; his partner Peter Bowler was 26 in the 29th over when he lofted to Rob Bailey at mid-on and was dropped.

The Derbyshire pair went on to their 14th century stand in one-day cricket and had laid the basis for victory when Barnett was bowled aiming to drive a good-length ball. Three overs later Bowler was run out by David Ripley's quick thinking. In came Morris and with Chris Adams firing cannon from the other end, 95 were added in 12 overs. Northamptonshire were left in the dust.