Both teams went into this match knowing that the result was likely to have a crucial bearing on the eventual outcome of the promotion race from this division.
Derbyshire won the toss and chose to field first on a pitch which looked likely to favour batting. The Yorkshire batsmen made good use of the favourable conditions as they went to 123 for two before lunch on the first day.The clouds were building up, so that there was only time for one ball after the interval, edged for four by Lyth, before rain prevented any further play that day.
Lyth was out for 93 next morning when he drove a wide half-volley from Ross Whiteley into cover’s hands. Once again Gary Ballance showed Derbyshire what a fine talent they had missed when he was allowed to leave for his adopted county: he played freely before he edged Tim Groenewald to the wicket-keeper for 79.
McGrath, who was only playing because two of Yorkshire’s young batsmen were on international duty, started slowly, but accelerated in an effort to gain a fifth batting point for his team.
Together with Hodd, on loan from Sussex as the stand-in wicket-keeper, they reached their target in the last available over, whereas Derbyshire had taken only five wickets, thus gaining only a single bowling bonus point. McGrath reached his hundred from183 balls.
Wes Durston came on to bowl his off-spin at this point and, as Yorkshire aimed to score quick runs before declaring, he took four wickets in nine balls to record his first-ever first-class five-wicket haul.
After Yorkshire were bowled out for 420, Derbyshire were left with eleven overs batting before the close on the second day.
Wayne Madsen and Matt Lineker seemed to have done their job well in keeping out the England fast-bowling pairing of Bresnan and Sidebottom, but they were frustrated when Madsen was lbw from the seventh ball of the final over of the day – Bresnan had bowled a No ball and thus earned himself that extra fateful ball.
Things did not go well on the third morning as three more wickets fell to reduce Derbyshire to 42 for four before Ross Whiteley joined Durston in a thirty-over partnership of 112 for the fifth wicket. Durston was bowled for a fine 84 by a ball which turned from the rough and Whiteley followed soon afterwards for a disciplined 35 (120 balls).
At 174 for six Derbyshire needed to work hard if they were to avoid the possibility of following on, and David Wainwright, playing against his old county battled hard while Tom Poynton showed some of the flair which he has shown in the second XI as they added a further 51 together. Poynton was adjudged lbw and another wicket fell in the following over, so Derbyshire found themselves in the precarious position of 233 for eight overnight, still 38 short of the follow-on target.
On the last morning Derbyshire, in particular Groenewald, batted with aggression so that the job seemed to have been done, but Wainwright was undone by a fine throw as he went for a second run from the stroke which had brought him his excellent fifty from 104 balls. Mark Turner hit two well-timed powerful fours off Sidebottom, bowling the first over with the new ball, but Groenewald fell in the next over from Bresnan.
Judging from the Yorkshire team’s reaction, it seemed as though they believed that being able to enforce the follow-on had ensured them victory.
Certainly Derbyshire did not start well as they lost their openers in the first six overs. This brought together Usman Khawaja and Durston and they were made to work hard against a strong attack, but they resisted everything that was bowled at them for thirty overs before Durston was lbw to Patterson.
Dan Redfern followed soon afterwards and the situation again was tense. Once again Whiteley played an uncharacteristically defensive role as he stayed with Khawaja for another twenty-nine overs: although he made only seventeen runs, the time he spent at the wicket (90 balls) was invaluable.
Khawaja will have been disappointed not to have made more runs in his previous few first-class innings this season, but he more than made up for any shortcomings with this fine, calm resistance: his hundred (189 balls), reached with a towering six over long-on, was his second for Derbyshire and the tenth of his career.
Whiteley hit an awkward catch to short extra-cover and, after only two overs of the last hour had been bowled, Yorkshire decided that Derbyshire had done enough to earn a draw, and the teams shook hands.
It is great credit to Derbyshire that they have once again recovered from a position where they opponents might well have expected to win: it shows that this is a team with some character, well-deserving of plenty of support during the last few weeks of the season.
They have a game in hand over all other teams in the Second Division, although their lead has been reduced to eleven points over second-placed Hampshire who beat Northamptonshire, Derbyshire’s next opponents in a match starting on Tuesday next.
Yorkshire 420 (113.4 overs) (A McGrath 104, A Lyth 93, GS Balance 79, AJ Hodd 58, AW Gale 47; WJ Durston 5 for 34, RA Whiteley 2 for 40, TD Groenewald 2 for 93)
Derbyshire 268 (90.3 overs) (WJ Durston 84, DJ Wainwright 60, RA Whiteley 35, T Poynton 25, TD Groenewald 21; R Sidebottom 3 for 38, A Rafiq 2 for 42, TT Bresnan 2 for 78) and 190 for 5 (72 overs) (UT Khawaja 110*, WJ Durston 39; TT Bresnan 2 for 55)
Derbyshire (6 points) drew with Yorkshire (11 points)
© 2015 Derbyshire County Cricket Club
The 3aaa County Ground, Grandstand Road, Derby DE21 6AF.
Tel: 01332 388 101
Website design by: www.thisismedia.co.uk