At last the weather relented and cricket could be played in conditions which were more suitable for all involved. On the first day of this match the temperature was in the high twenties, andEssexwon the toss and chose to bat. They seemed to be setting a platform for the expected large total, but the runs came slowly and wickets fell at regular intervals.
Tim Groenewald and Ross Whiteley dismissed the openers in the first twenty overs, but it was when David Wainwright was introduced in the twenty-sixth over that the first really significant wicket fell.
His very first ball spun sharply and lifted to take the outside edge of Shah who had just returned from a spell playing in theIPLand wicket-keeper Tom Poynton took an excellent catch.
Pettini set out to provide the backbone to theEssexinnings, but he lost two more partners when Wainwright started a second spell: these two wickets fell in his first over, so at 101 for five,Essex were in trouble. Pettini was supported first by Greg Smith, then by Masters, in two stands which added 65 between them in a painstaking thirty-one overs.
Essex’s last four wickets added only sixteen runs, and Derbyshire had every right to feel pleased to have dismissed their hosts for a meagre 182. Wainwright finished with five for 51 on a pitch which should have favoured batsmen: it was remarkable in that he had bowled three separate spells and taken a wicket with the first ball of each – and it was his third five-wicket haul of the season.
Derbyshire were made to work very hard by the experienced opening pair of Essex bowlers, but they survived fifteen overs for the loss of only one wicket before the close – 37 for one.
Martin Guptill and Wayne Madsen scored at almost a run a minute for the first fifty minutes on the second morning: Guptill was out after they had added 81 for the second wicket and then Wes Durston made sure that Derbyshire’s good progress was maintained with a partnership of 77 for the third wicket. Madsen seemed unlucky to be given out caught at the wicket soon after he had reached a hard-earned fifty from 126 balls.
Durston continued in fine fluent form and he reached an excellent hundred in only 110 balls with eight fours and two sixes. At one stage it looked as though Derbyshire would go on and make a large total, but several middle-order batsmen were guilty of over-ambitious shots. The score slipped from 232 for four to 278 for nine with leg-spinner Craddock causing most of the misjudgements. Tim Groenewald joined Tom Poynton in the hope that they might score the twenty-two runs needed to earn a third batting point.
For some seasons now Poynton has shown promise, but he chose this moment to hint at the fulfilment to come. In just over five overs Derbyshire’s last pair added another 45 and Poynton completed his maiden first-class fifty in only 35 balls including seven fours and two sixes. Groenewald hit a six of his own and this partnership definitely put Derbyshire on the front foot for the start of theEssexsecond innings.
Groenewald continued his good work by having both Essex openers caught in the slips in his first two overs. Shah and Pettini survived until the end of the day withEssexon 46 for two, still 95 runs in arrears.
This pair continued for another thirty minutes on the third morning before Pettini was caught off Wainwright, who then bowled Foakes in his next over. At 77 for four Essex were in real trouble, but Shah and James Foster battled hard for eighteen overs in adding fifty at which point Shah missed an intended pull from a ball bowled by Durston which went behind his legs to hit his leg-stump.
Foster played with care as he sought lasting support from his fellow-batsmen, but wickets continued to fall so that, at 183 for seven, Essex were only 42 runs ahead with three wickets remaining. Now Foster changed gear: while Derbyshire set their fields deep, Foster refused the many easy singles on offer and played big shots when the field came closer at the end of each over. In fifteen overs the last three wickets added another fifty-one runs, all of them except one extra from the bat of Foster.
Tony Palladino eventually trapped him lbw, so Derbyshire were left with a target of 94 in thirty-one overs plus a full day.
Guptill and Paul Borrington made sure that they did not lose any wickets to the new ball, and they scored only five runs in the first five overs. At this point Guptill drove Willoughby back over his head for six, a feat which he repeated in Willoughby’s next over. Thereafter the runs came at almost eight runs an over, mostly scored by Guptill who reached his fifty from 42 balls, although Borrington played a few shots of his own as victory came near. This was the first time Derbyshire had won a game at this Chelmsford ground since 1937, a fact which made the success all the more welcome.
This ten-wicket win had been a wonderful performance by a team which is gaining in confidence and self-belief. It takes them further ahead at the top of the Second Division, twenty-six points in front of second-placedKent. These are still early days and the team are very aware that they have still to play Kent and Yorkshire twice each and Hampshire once, but if they can keep playing the sort of cricket we have seen so far this season, then anything is possible.
Derbyshire’s next championship match starts atBristolon Wednesday, 30 May, when they play Gloucestershire in a return match.
Essex182 (79.2 overs) (ML Pettini 56, T Westley 36, OA Shah 21; DJ Wainwright 5 for 56, TD Groenewald 2 for 26) and 234 (84.2 overs) (JS Foster 96, OA Shah 75; TD Groenewald 3 for 26, DJ Wainwright 3 for 83, AP Palladino 2 for 44)
Derbyshire 323 (88.5 overs) (WJ Durston 116, T Poynton 50*, WL Madsen 50, MJ Guptill 36; TR Craddock 5 for 96, DD Master 2 for 53) and 96 for 0 (17 overs) (MJ Guptill 66*, PM Borrington 30*)
Derbyshire (22 points) beat Essex (3) by 10 wickets
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