Derbyshire must try to exploit Harvey's absence

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The Independent Online

Derbyshire's Championship and National League placings make for uncomfortable reading: bottom in both Second Divisions. It is a source of wonder, therefore, that today they find themselves a match away from a Lord's final.

All they have to do is overcome the former one-day kings, Gloucestershire, down in the West Country, to reach the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy final. Before Derbyshire's chances are dismissed, however, it should be remembered how they arrived in the last four - by beating the tournament favourites, Surrey, in what turned out to be an extremely one-sided quarter-final.

That crushing, eight-wicket victory over the Championship leaders will have done Dominic Cork and his men no end of good. Cork said: "At the moment we have got a lot of confidence in one-day cricket - a little bit different to the confidence we are showing in four-day cricket.

"The guys have worked hard. They are understanding how to build an innings in one-day cricket and also, when we have to bat second, how to go on and knock the runs off."

He sees 7 August is a massive day for the club and the side. "I've been lucky enough to reach two Lord's finals with Derbyshire and I'd love to make it there three times. It will be a tough game against a very strong Gloucestershire side but we back our own abilities to do well at Bristol.

"We've had to go the hard way to get to this stage. We beat a good one-day side in Glamorgan and became the first side to beat Surrey this season in the quarter-finals. The only way to get to the final is to beat good sides."

And there is little doubt that Gloucestershire are a good one-day side. Indeed there were times in the 1999 and 2000 seasons when it looked as if Mark Alleyne and his team had claimed squatters' rights at Lord's as they won the then NatWest Trophy and Benson & Hedges Super Cup one year before beginning the 21st century by winning the B&H Cup and NatWest again, as well as the National League.

This season, after a couple of blank summers, they are back on form and looking to relive those turn-of-the-century glory days. But their coach, John Bracewell, warned: "Derbyshire are a dangerous side. They have at least three match-winners - Graeme Welch, Michael di Venuto and their captain, Dominic Cork - and on their day, if they get their game together we could end up a very quiet team tomorrow evening."

Gloucestershire, however, must do without their proven match-winner, Ian Harvey, who is on international duty with Australia. But Harvey said: "In previous seasons they have won without me and I am sure they can do it again.

"The great thing about this club is that when one guy is missing, another one steps up to the plate and does the job. That is our greatest asset, the strength in depth."

Derbyshire will definitely view Harvey's enforced absence as a boost to their chances, with Welch saying: "The one bonus for us is that they don't have Ian Harvey. He can win games by himself, and his absence is one thing we have got to take advantage of.

"They are a disciplined unit. They all know their jobs and have been in situations where they always believe they can win, but we have also taken a lot of confidence from the win over Surrey, when no one outside of Derby gave us a chance," Welch added. Whatever the outcome, it promises to be an exciting game, with possibly home advantage making the difference.