Derbyshire moved 26 points clear at the summit of the LV= County Championship Second Division with a nail-biting victory over Kent.
Karl Krikken’s men looked dead and buried against their promotion rivals after collapsing to 132 all out in reply to the visitors’ 265 on Day 2.
But seven-wicket heroics from Tony Palladino yesterday, followed by a stout batting performance from Dan Redfern (pictured) today, handed the leaders a priceless victory.
Resuming at 168-2, Usman Khawaja and Wes Durston each completed half-centuries in a partnership of 102, propelling the home side to a position of near utopian strength in their most important day of four day cricket so far in 2012.
But 192-2 quickly became 215-6 as Charlie Shreck rocked the middle-order with three wickets in nine balls.
Khawaja reached 50 in 129 deliveries (3 fours and a six) before he was squared-up by a good one and caught behind. Durston’s fifty came in ten fewer balls and contained five boundaries before he was lbw. And a wafty drive from Richard Johnson (1) completed a potentially match-turning trio for the big Cornishman who bowled 15 overs on the reel finishing with figures of 4 for 99.
As Matt Coles dismissed David Wainwright for 2 with a brute of a rising delivery off a length, Derbyshire were in desperate need of a hero.
The said hero was not to be Jonathan Clare who reached 12 in a partnership of 21 with Redfern before lobbing Shreck to mid-off with 59 needed to win and now only three wickets standing.
Without the Day 3 brilliance of Palladino with the ball, Derbyshire would have been dead and buried well in advance of this compelling final day drama.
But the Londoner was unable to repeat those heroics with the bat, offering a simple catch to short extra-cover, off the bowling of Mark Davies, which left Derbyshire 257-8 chasing 295.
Dan Redfern, however, was handling an ultra-tense situation with consummate composure. All he needed was a partner.
Step forward Tim Groenewald who provided the perfect sensible head for the situation, scoring 20 not out off 41 balls and accompanying the in-form left-hander in a critical unbroken stand of 41.
Back-to-back cover-drives off Shreck provided the mid-innings highlight of Redfern’s accomplished performance. A booming lofted drive to bring up 50, in 67 balls with 5 fours, was a glorious way to finish.
A healthy gathering of Derbyshire supporters had been forced to endure a tortuous 40 minutes, with nine runs remaining for the win, while lunch was taken. The wait, however, proved to be well worth their while.
Inside Edge – “An unbelievable win that just sums up what we are about as a team. There were some great individual performances but mostly it was brilliant from the team as a whole. We love playing for each other.”
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