Sussex v Derbyshire at Hove on 2nd, 3rd and 4th August: LV= County Championship: Division One
By John Brown
An outstanding all-round performance helped Derbyshire overturn a 40-run deficit at the halfway stage to claim a stunning nine-wicket win inside three days against Sussex at Hove.
Derbyshire, and a good number of their supporters, travelled down to the south coast on the hottest day of the year to play championship-challengers, Sussex. This was the first time that Derbyshire had played a four-day match at Hove since 1996.
On a hot sticky day, Wayne Madsen won the toss and chose to field first. Derbyshire had one of the youngest, less-experienced teams they had turned out in recent years; Matt Higginbottom was making his Championship debut, while all-rounder Alex Hughes was making his first-class debut.
Tim Groenewald and Mark Footitt made the Sussex openers work hard with some lively and accurate bowling, but it was Higginbottom who made the first breakthrough when he had Chris Nash caught at slip. Alex Hughes took the second wicket before Footitt got the home team’s Captain, Ed Joyce, to edge one to Tom Poynton, keeping wicket. Even so, with the score on 144 for three, questions might have been asked as to whether the decision to give Sussex first innings was a wise one.
It was at this point that Hughes took two wickets in three balls and the situation was much more promising. While these five wickets had been falling, opener Luke Wells had stood firm and he stayed to reach his hundred from 258 balls. When he had added 45 with Brown, Madsen came on for a very rare bowl, and he was delighted when Brown hit his first ball straight to mid-on for a simple catch.
Madsen returned for a short second spell and again took a wicket in his first over, this time with a dreadful long-hop which Wells managed to sky to deep mid-on. This was followed by a frustrating stand of 59 for the ninth wicket before Groenewald took the last three wickets at a personal cost of three runs. Sussex were all out for 314 in the ninety-fourth over so there was no time for Derbyshire to start their innings on the first evening.
On Saturday, Ben Slater and Chesney Hughes put on 36 for the first wicket, but they were both out within three overs of each other. The in-form Madsen was once again required to provide the backbone of the Derbyshire innings as he lost a succession of partners after all-too-short periods of resistance. With their score on 139 for six, there were even anxieties that Derbyshire might not avoid the follow-on, but Peter Burgoyne joined his captain and showed commonsense and maturity beyond his nineteen years.
Madsen and Burgoyne added 78 in twenty-three overs before Madsen fell just three runs short of what would have been a thoroughly well-deserved century. Now Burgoyne took control and led the way in adding a further 45 for the ninth wicket before his partner, Higginbottom, providing stubborn defence, was bowled by Steve Magoffin.
Derbyshire’s 274 all out was a most commendable achievement, especially as Sussex could boast the two leading Championship wicket-takers in the country in Chris Jordan and Magoffin.
Sussex had seven overs batting before the close and Groenewald took a useful wicket when he bowled Nash. So, Sussex started the third day with a lead of 51 runs and nine wickets still to fall. Groenewald and Footitt were in seemingly inspired form as they captured two wickets each and reduced Sussex to 29 for five. When these two were rested, Higginbottom and Alex Hughes maintained the pressure on the home team’s batsmen as they took a wicket each in sustained accurate spells of controlled seam bowling.
There was the almost inevitable mini-recovery, between Wright and Jordan for the eighth wicket, but Groenewald and Footitt returned to finish Sussex off after lunch for 133. This left Derbyshire needing 174 to win with a day and a half in which to do it. It was expected, on a day when the ball was swinging considerably, that this target would be a very challenging one. It was therefore, some relief when Slater and Chesney Hughes survived the early few testing overs with some comfort and then scored at almost five runs an over before Hughes fell with the score at 69.
Surely this start should have set Derbyshire on their way to a comfortable win, and supporters were cheered to see the reassuring figure of Madsen coming out to join his junior partner. Without any fuss or anxiety this pair just batted, playing the occasional fine stroke through the covers and accumulating runs until the target was reached at 5.31pm. Only one wicket had been lost and Sussex were thus denied the chance of going, temporarily at least, to the top of the First Division table.
Slater had recorded his maiden Championship fifty (94 balls) while Madsen reached his third fifty (54 balls) of the season against Sussex.
Derbyshire now had 68 Championship points, only six fewer than Surrey who had a game in hand and fourteen behind Somerset, so now there is real hope that they can continue this form and perhaps even escape the relegation which seems to have been threatening for much of the season.
This was a result to be savoured – supporters will be looking forward to the next matches in which Derbyshire are involved with even greater relish than usual. Their next four-day opponents will be Middlesex at Derby starting on Thursday, 20th August.
Sussex 314 (93.2 overs) (LWP Wells 110, CJ Jordan 48, SJ Magoffin 32, CD Nash 22, EC Joyce 22, BC Brown 20; AL Hughes 3 for 49, TD Groenewald 3 for 74, WL Madsen 2 for 9)
133 (47.4 overs) (LJ Wright 49, CJ Jordan 23; TD Groenewald 5 for 40, MHA Footitt 3 for 39)
Derbyshire 274 (87 overs) (WL Madsen 97, PI Burgoyne 62*; CJ Jordan 3 for 73, LJ Wright 2 for 36, MS Panesar 2 for 45, BJ Magoffin 2 for 53)
174 for 1 (42.3 overs) (BT Slater 66*, WL Madsen 62*)
Derbyshire (21 points) beat Sussex (6) by 9 wickets
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