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Five Key matches in 2012 success by Jake Needham

Five Key matches in 2012 success by Jake Needham

 

With the well-earned fanfare that the Derbyshire class of 2012 are enjoying after the historic achievement of their first promotion into the top tier of the LV=County Championship, I thought it appropriate to look back at the championship campaign as a whole, and the five season-defining moments that came along the way (if you can’t reminisce after a season like this one, when can you!).

 

Derbyshire v Northamptonshire, the County Ground, April 5-8 2012

I will start rather unimaginatively with the first LV=CC match of the season. With the winter planning and preparation complete, and a successful pre-season tour behind the squad, the arrival of Northants up the M1 represented the first opportunity that new captain and Robin Van Persie look-a-like Wayne Madsen had to showcase his leadership skills.

However day one was all about one person, Dan Redfern. The talented, young south paw had notched up countless half centuries throughout his fledging career, including an agonising 99 against Glamorgan in 2011. But in bowler friendly conditions, Redfern managed to chalk up his first career (and first anywhere in the 2012 domestic season) first-class century. Redfern ending on 110 out of 286.

Northants were dismissed 22 runs behind and with time running short, a notable and fast paced opening stand of 224 between Borrington and Guptill allowed the home side to set Northants the target of 336 or to bat out the final day.

The game was perfectly set up for winter recruit David Wainwright to show the Derbyshire public just what has made him such a consistent and effective performer. He bowled unchanged for 26 overs recording career best figures of 6 for 33 to earn the hosts a 202 run victory, and propel Derbyshire to the top of the division.

 

Glamorgan v Derbyshire, Swalec Stadium, April 12-15 2012

From there the Derbyshire bandwagon travelled down to Cardiff to face Glamorgan. The country may have been different, but the result was much the same with Derbyshire recording a remarkable victory by 130 having been dismissed for only 130 in their first innings. The plaudits that week fell to the squad’s own ‘Beefy Botham’; Jon Clare (he likes long walks and red meat too) who had astonishing match figures of 11 for 57 as well crucially scoring 64 runs in a low scoring encounter.

The victory not only earned Madsen’s men a second victory of the campaign, but coming, as it did with odds stacked heavily against them, typified just what has made the side such a success throughout the year, a ‘never say die attitude’ and an unparalleled team spirit.

 

Derbyshire v Kent, Count Ground, August 2-5 2012

The reason for my leap across the season from April to August was due to so many of the fixtures in mid-season being blighted by rain; however when August arrived, Kent were the visitors to the County Ground.

It was a huge task for the home side to beat a side so packed with players of international quality, and a major test of the seriousness of their title credentials. After the first innings, the home side sat precariously 133 runs in arrears, having been bundled out for 132 by former Nottinghamshire swinger Charlie Shreck.

What transpired over the second half of the match, underlined exactly how serious the clubs title ambitions were. Kent were skittled for 161 with Tony Palladino amongst the wickets, taking career best analysis of 7-53. This left the home side to chase down 295 for what had seemed a day before, an impossible victory.

The chase began positively with 83 being put on for the opening wicket by Madsen and Matt Lineker. Half centuries were also registered by overseas batsman Usman Khawaja and Wes Durston, in what was beginning to seem like a procession to the winning post.

With the score on 197/2 and two batsman well set, victory looked to be a formality, however from there Derbyshire, due to a combination of fine swing bowling and understandable nerves given the gravitas of the fixture lost 6/60, and were still 38 adrift. But with Redfern there all was not lost, and in Tim Groenewald he found a willing accomplice as they ticked the score off into single figures.

Nerves were getting frayed and the length of fingernails was decreasing with each delivery amongst the supporters. With victory only a boundary away, Redfern smashed Davies back over his head to bring up his half century and a home victory. Redfern’s measured and mature knock would see Derbyshire take 19 points from the fixture, and eventually win him the Eddie Barlow Inspirational Performance award.

 

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire, Wantage Road, August 21-24

For my fourth instalment of 2012 ‘classic matches’ I have picked the return fixture against Northants.

With Madsen’s men having hung on for a draw at Headingley thanks to a Khawaja hundred in a rear guard effort on the final day, they travelled to Wantage Road hoping to assert their dominance over a side they had beaten so comprehensively back in April.

However Northants are difficult to beat on their home patch, and with Head Grounds man Paul Marshall laying a particularly even stretch of the M1 as a substitute for a cricket pitch, as well as Derbyshire being asked to field first, the odds were stacked against them.

The Northamptonshire deck looked full of runs on day one.

Northants took full batting points with Rob Newton making the first of two centuries for him in the fixture. Captain Madsen would have known that 251 to avoid the follow on, and then to get as close to parity as possible was the order of the day. But at 207/7 things weren’t looking good. Clare took them past the follow on target of 251.

However when he went with the score on 253/8, the visitors knew that to concede a lead of over 100 could be crucial. 74 overs later, Derbyshire lost their 9th wicket with Madsen and Poynton sharing in a stand worth an incredible 261, the two narrowly missing out on the world record for a ninth wicket stand in first-class cricket. It was Poynton’s maiden first-class ton, with captain Madsen registering his maiden first class double century, eventually ending unbeaten on 231.

The game meandered to a draw over the final day, and the points haul of nine certainly wasn’t particularly notable, but the fight and resilience shown by the Captain as well as academy graduate Poynton, showed everyone around the country that Derbyshire were deadly serious about gaining promotion as champions.

 

Derbyshire v Hampshire, County Ground, September 11-14

As I began rather unimaginatively by beginning with the first game of the season, I am sure you’ll forgive me for finishing this piece with the final game of the season.

The top of the table could not have been tighter with Derbyshire a point clear of Yorkshire in second and six clear of Hampshire in third. Anything other than a Derbyshire win would have seen the fate of the LV=CC Division Two title decided elsewhere.

Hampshire were asked to bat first and as was the case throughout the season, the bowling attack did not disappoint, dismissing the visitors for 272, Palladino and Wainwright sharing six wickets between them.

Derbyshire managed to get the tightest of first innings leads thanks to a stylish 71 from Khawaja and 57 from Whiteley. By this time, events at Chelmsford were filtering through and Yorkshire appeared on the brink of sealing victory, meaning only a win would be sufficient to see Derbyshire lifting their first silverware since 1993.

With this knowledge, the bowlers set about their task with no shortage of gusto, dismissing the visitors for 198. All six bowlers used had something in the wickets column, underlining the team effort that the success enjoyed in 2012 represented. This left two sessions to score 196 and take the title.

Khawaja scored his second half century of the match, finishing unbeaten on 72, while it was home-grown starlet Whiteley who put the finishing touches to the run chase lofting Dawson’s left arm spin high into the stands to seal the match and the trophy.

These were my highlights of the incredible 2012 campaign, here’s hoping that there are many more memorable matches to look back on at the end of 2013.

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