By John Brown
Derbyshire came to this match, their last of the season, knowing that anything less than a win was unlikely to give them the longed-for promotion which they had been playing for.
In front of the Sky cameras who were covering the whole match, Wayne Madsen won the toss and chose to field first whereupon Tony Palladino responded by taking three wickets in his opening spell of eight overs. Hampshire were 26 for three and this became 59 for four when Ross Whiteley dismissed the in-form Adams.
Now Vince and Ervine came together and restored the Hampshire position with a partnership of 136 for the fourth wicket: Vince passed fifty for the first time in the championship this season and he went on to complete a very good hundred from 128 balls.
Once this pair was parted Derbyshire’s bowlers completed their job by bowling Hampshire out for 272, with David Wainwright taking the last two wickets in two balls.
Derbyshire had eighteen overs to bat before the close, but they lost three wickets to finish the day on 50 for three. Palladino had come in as night-watchman and he spent the first eighty minutes on the second morning playing some sparkling shots to score 58 (8 fours 2 sixes) from 78 balls.
Usman Khawaja had played the sensible supporting role at the other end and he was still there at lunch, taken at 167 for five.
The umpires and players came out after the interval, but rain drove them back before a ball could be bowled and that was the end of play for the day.
In the meantime Derbyshire’s chief rivals were making progress in their matches, although Glamorgan seemed to be doing them a favour as they compiled 390 against Kent.
On the third morning Khawaja fell without adding to his overnight score of 71, and Wainwright soon followed. Derbyshire now knew that they needed at least two batting bonus points if they were to have any chance of achieving their ultimate aim, so they were indebted to the youthful pairing of Whiteley and Tom Poynton who added an invaluable 63 together for the eighth wicket.
Now they had those two all-important extra points and they were able to continue to claim a narrow three-run lead on first innings. Whiteley continued his good run with an excellent undefeated 57 (7 fours and a six) from 132 balls.
Hampshire started their second innings shortly after lunch and lost their openers within four balls of each other in the ninth and tenth overs bowled by Palladino and Tim Groenewald – 16 for two.
Shafayat dug in for the visitors and helped them to 68 for three from twenty-four overs at tea. Shafayat was supported by Vince and then Ervine, but Whiteley produced one of his most effective short spells of the season as he took two wickets for only six runs. This took Hampshire to 142 for six at the close, a position which raised Derbyshire hopes, even though Shafayat was still there on 52.
After the close at Derby the news from Cardiff came in that Glamorgan had managed to beat Kent by seven wickets: this ensured that Derbyshire would be promoted, but now their aim was to take top position in the division.
They were made to wait more than ten overs on the final morning before they could take a wicket, but then the last four men were out to spinners Wes Durston and Wainwright in the space of six overs for only nineteen runs.
Paul Borrington had made an outstanding catch at deep mid-off as he dived far to his right and held the ball with both hands. Shafayat had run himself out by thinking of taking a quick single to Whiteley at mid-wicket who whipped his return to wicket-keeper Poynton to leave the batsman stranded.
Derbyshire needed 196 to win in a minimum of 77 overs: they had fifty minutes batting before lunch and Madsen and Borrington soothed jangling nerves with a positive and assured opening partnership of 45 in thirteen overs.
Then, most unexpectedly, both batsmen were dismissed just before lunch, so spectators were left waiting anxiously to see what would happen after the interval.
They need not have worried: Khawaja and Durston came out playing shots, with Khawaja looking in his best form of the season. Together they added 67 at five runs an over before Durston was adjudged lbw – 112 for three.
Dan Redfern joined Khawaja who immediately unleashed a series of beautiful cover-drives. When Whiteley joined his Australian partner fifty-three runs were still needed, but Whiteley, who had celebrated his twenty-fourth birthday the previous day, was in no mood to keep the crowd waiting.
Only eight overs were needed to complete the victory: Khawaja was there at the end, and was named Man of the Match, probably just edging out his partner at the end for that honour.
Whiteley struck a remarkable five sixes, including the winning hit over square-leg. It was a wonderful moment, the culmination of much hard work and good cricket, thoroughly well-deserved by all the players, coaches and support staff.
Derbyshire finished with same number of points as Yorkshire, 194, but since they had won one more match than their northern neighbours, Derbyshire were the champions.
The celebrations were great - there were plenty of interviews and much spraying of champagne in front of a happy crowd of Derbyshire supporters. It is to be hoped that most of these, and many others, will be back next year to watch some long-awaited First Division cricket.
Hampshire 272 (75.4 overs) (JM Vince 114, SM Ervine 61, MD Bates 29, DJ Balcombe 20*, JHK Adams 20; AP Palladino 3 for 44, DJ Wainwright 3 for 69, RA Whiteley 2 for 37) and 198 (72.3 overs) (BM Shafayat 81, JM Vince 26, SM Ervine 20; RA Whiteley 2 for 6, WJ Durston 2 for 36, DJ Wainwright 2 for 41)
Derbyshire 275 (86 overs) (UT Khawaja 71, AP Palladino 58, RA Whiteley 57*, T Poynton 24; SM Ervine 3 for 25, JA Tomlinson 3 for 65, DJ Balcombe 2 for 68) and 197 for 4 (41.5 overs) (UT Khawaja 72*, RA Whiteley 38*, WL Madsen 24, WJ Durston 23, PM Borrington 21; DA Griffiths 2 for 33, LA Dawson 2 for 82)
Derbyshire (21 points) beat Hampshire (5) by 6 wickets
Derbyshire became Division 2 Champions for 2012
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