By John Brown
Derbyshire were pleased to welcome Kent in this crucial championship match which was likely to have an effect on the promotion prospects for both teams.
Wayne Madsen won the toss for Derbyshire and asked Kent to bat first. Sam Northeast was in fine form for the visitors and he reached his fifty from 64 balls (9 fours) when the total was only 62.
When Northeast was third out, bowled by a beauty from Jon Clare, Kent’s score was 69 for three, after which some sustained accurate bowling by the seamers reduced Kent to 174 for eight.
There had been a couple of stoppages for rain which reduced the number of overs in the day’s allocation by twenty-six. It was at this stage that Coles and Davies came together and they survived until the close which was taken at 238 for eight.
Coles hit a six from the second ball of the second day but fell to a well-judged catch on the mid-wicket boundary two balls later: he had faced 83 balls (5 fours and 3 sixes) in an important innings of 57. Together with Davies, this pair had added seventy runs for the ninth wicket and last man Shreck stayed while another frustrating 21 came for the last wicket.
265 will have been more than Derbyshire would have hoped for after choosing to field first, but it soon seemed a huge score when they slipped from 37 for one to a near-disastrous 51 for six.
The Kent bowlers were swinging the ball in helpful conditions and Derbyshire’s top-order batsmen found it difficult to cope. With only four wickets remaining they still needed sixty-five to avoid being asked to follow on, and when the eighth wicket fell at 93, the follow-on seemed the most likely outcome.
Tim Groenewald joined David Wainwright and together they battled for nine overs and added a crucial thirty-four runs, thus avoiding the possibility of being asked to follow on. Shreck had bowled a hostile sixteen overs in capturing his five wickets.
Kent batted again with a lead of 133 and most people present expected them to bat until mid-afternoon on the third day before declaring to leave Derbyshire with a game to save.
Tony Palladino took two early wickets and Mark Turner another to reduce Kent to 43 for three. The visiting skipper, Rob Key, had batted steadily while these wickets fell and, together with Powell, he saw his team to the close in the comfortable position of 93 for three, an apparently secure 226 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand.
Next morning Key stood firm, but Palladino and Groenewald were in inspired form as they dismissed four batsmen in the space of seven overs while only nine runs were added.
The last three wickets added 43 runs, but Palladino dismissed all three, including that of Key, ninth out for a masterful 81, to dismiss Kent for an improbable 161.
So Palladino had taken seven wickets in an innings for the first time in his career and thus given Derbyshire an outside chance of turning the tables on their rivals. His previous career-best figures had also been against Kent, nine years earlier when he was playing for Essex.
Madsen and Matt Lineker survived the three overs before lunch and they stayed together for another 75 minutes afterwards: between them they had set Derbyshire a fine base, 83 for the first wicket, from which to chase their target of 295 runs to win.
When bad light followed by heavy rain brought play to an early close, Derbyshire had reached the promising position of 168 for two – only 127 more runs to win and eight wickets left with which to do it.
Usman Khawaja and Wes Durston had so far added 73 for the third wicket and they took this to 102 (in thirty-nine overs) before Khawaja (137 balls) was caught at the wicket from a good ball by Shreck. Durston (123 balls) followed soon afterwards and, when two more wickets fell in the next four overs, Derbyshire’s score had slipped to 215 for six and Kent looked to be favourites again.
At this point Dan Redfern had scored an unflustered ten and he was supported first by Clare, then by Palladino as they helped to add twenty-one runs for each of the seventh and eighth wickets.
When Groenewald joined Redfern, however, Derbyshire still needed another thirty-eight runs to win and there were only two wickets left. This pair were the models of good cricketing sense as they took their singles and avoided the aggressive short-pitched bowling. Shreck had bowled throughout the scheduled pre-lunch session, fifteen overs in all, during which he had taken four wickets for 51 runs.
Under the new regulation for 2012, Kent were entitled to claim an extra four overs in an effort to finish the match before the interval, but Redfern and Groenewald saw these overs out while adding a further nerve-racking six runs.
Now Derbyshire needed only another nine runs to win, and they continued to defy the Kent pace attack as Groenewald in particular was targeted with a succession of bouncers. Groenewald aimed a few beefy square cuts at short balls outside the off-stump and, when he top-edged Coles over the slips for four, the scores were level.
Now Redfern, who had shown great composure throughout his innings, with all the fielders in to save the single, drove Davies back over his head for the winning four which also brought up his personal fifty in 67 balls.
It was a wonderful win, a win which showed the depth of character and team spirit in this Derbyshire side. It was a win which took Derbyshire twenty-six points clear at the top of the Second Division, but still with plenty to play for.
Derbyshire’s next four-day match is not until next week, an away match with Yorkshire at Headingley, another crucial game, but every match from here until the end of the season is likely to be crucial.
Kent 265 (75.5 overs) (MT Coles 57, SA Northeast 52, M Davies 29; TD Groenewald 3 for 41, ML Turner 3 for 66, AP Palladino 2 for 65) and 161 (56.5 overs) (RWT Key 81: AP Palladino 7 for 53, TD Groenewald 2 for 39)
Derbyshire 132 (47.3 overs) (DJ Wainwright 29*, TD Groenewald 23, MS Lineker 22; CE Shreck 5 for 41, M Davies 2 for 27, DI Stevens 2 for 29) and 298 for 8 (96.2 overs) (UT Khawaja 56, WJ Durston 55, DJ Redfern 50*, MS Lineker 45, WL Madsen 30, TD Groenewald 20*; CE Shreck 4 for 99, MT Coles 2 for 71)
Derbyshire (19 points) beat Kent (5) by 2 wickets
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