My favourite cricket ground is still Taunton.
Everything I’d written last week about this small cricket ground nestled alongside the Rive Tone in south west England is just as valid following four days of nail-biting cricket.
The first impression of a ground Derbyshire had not visited since 2007 was that it looked different – a re-vamped Colin Atkinson Pavilion, the new Andrew Caddick Players Pavilion, 65 flats overlooking the ground, and the new 3,000-seater Somerset Stand. And yet, paradoxically, it was just the same.
The same raucous spectators seated - and standing - in the shadow of the church tower in the south-eastern corner of the ground; the Cornish and Devonians chattering in their unique accents; cider being dispensed in copious quantities at various outlets around the ground; the wise old sages ensconced in the Sir Ian Botham Stand passing comment on the niceties of leg-spin bowling; former Test umpire Ken Palmer seemingly on every corner greeting me with ‘Hello Derbyshire’ every time we saw each other.
The ground is more compact than ever, and with 2,500 spectators in on the first day there was a genuinely partisan atmosphere. Derbyshire followers were there in number, however, with more in attendance at an away Championship game than at any other this season, and with the weather set fair for all four days, we just needed the teams to deliver.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul praised his team-mates for all playing their part, after Derbyshire battled hard on the final day to claim victory against Somerset.
The 39-year-old produced his most telling contribution yet in a Derbyshire shirt, hitting a priceless unbeaten 74 to guide Karl Krikken’s side to a two-wicket win at Taunton.
Chanderpaul and Tim Groenewald faced an anxious wait during the lunch interval with eight wickets down and just six runs needed for victory. But four leg-byes in the third over after the resumption sealed a crucial triumph for the visitors.
Speaking exclusively to the Cricket Derbyshire E-Newsletter, Chanderpaul said: “I’m delighted to have seen us home.
“It was a tough day for us and a tough game. But we stood strong and came out on top at the end.
“There were obviously a few nerves at lunch. We just tried to keep it out of our minds and not stress too much about it. If it was going to happen it would happen.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul hit a classy unbeaten 74 when his team needed it most - as Derbyshire claimed a nail-biting win over Somerset on the final day at Taunton.
Needing six runs with two wickets left at lunch, Chanderpaul and Tim Groenewald (six not out) held their nerves to see Karl Krikken's side home in the third over after the restart - to the delight of the visiting dressing room.
This after Alex Hughes had earlier recorded his joint highest first-class score, adding 33 priceless runs as part of a 68-run stand with his experienced West Indies partner to move their side from 124-5 to 192-6.
And fittingly, it was Chanderpaul on strike who, via four leg-byes, handed Derbyshire their third victory of the campaign. The win moves Wayne Madsen's men out of the bottom two in the LV= County Championship Division One, a point ahead of Somerset and 16 points ahead of Surrey with two fixtures remaining.
Reauming on 124-4, the visitors lost Richard Johnson (0) in the second over of the morning - before a 68-run stand between Chanderpaul and Hughes moved Wayne Madsen's side to within 50 runs of the victory target.
A half-century from Ben Slater has left Derbyshire still in the hunt - requiring 117 more runs with six wickets left - after Day Three at Taunton.
Tony Palladino (3-57) and David Wainwright (3-105) claimed three apiece to dismiss Somerset for 438 during the afternoon session.
The visitors opened with a 49-run stand – before two quick wickets from Jack Leach meant Karl Krikken's side slipped to 53-2. But 57 from Slater and an unbeaten 20 from Chanderpaul helped Derbyshire close on 127-4 at stumps.
Resuming on 231-4, Somerset enjoyed the better of the morning session as Nick Compton – who top scored with 95 – and Alex Barrow (36) added 63 runs before the first wicket finally fell after an hour’s play.
With new ball in hand, Palladino (3-57) picked up his first wicket in his fourth over of the morning clean bowling Compton to reduce the hosts to 294-5.
Derbyshire CCC has confirmed that they could develop a venue capable of hosting outdoor concerts and county wide community events.
The Club has recently been granted £1.7 million in England & Wales Cricket Board funding which is ring-fenced for ground development. Discussions regarding Derby City Council financial support are ongoing.
Derbyshire Chief Executive Simon Storey said: “We have made Derby City Council aware of our willingness to consider the County Ground as an option for community events and concerts.
“As part of our role as a County Cricket Club, we’re keen to make our facilities accessible to the community on both matchdays and non-matchdays.
Derbyshire claimed two late wickets - including one with the final ball of the day - to stall the Somerset fightback and keep the match in the balance after Day Two at Taunton.
Tim Groenewald (36 not out) and Mark Footitt (11) shared a 42-run last wicket stand to help Derbyshire recover from 256-9 to 298 all out just before lunch.
A century partnership between Nick Compton (64 not out) and James Hildreth (88), however, helped the hosts to chalk off their 195-run deficit for the loss of just two wickets.
But two late wickets - one apiece for David Wainwright (1-62) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (1-9) - have left the match finely poised with Somerset 231-4, a lead of 36 runs.
Resuming on 220-5, Derbyshire added 78 more runs in the morning session to secure a 195-run lead.
Building on an astonishing opening day - in which the visitors dismissed Somerset for just 103 inside 34 overs - Tom Poynton and Richard Johnson completed a century partnership, before the former was the first man out on 57, caught behind off Alfonso Thomas.
As well as toasting the mind-blowing success of their company, BuyMobiles.net & A1 Comms bosses were also celebrating their support of cricket in Derbyshire from grassroots through to the professional game.
Building on their Derby County Football Club shirt sponsorship, the Alfreton based telecoms giant secured all-year-round publicity through televised national sport by sponsoring the Derbyshire CCC Twenty20 jerseys in 2013.
By supporting Belper Meadows CC, the multi-million-pound company have also been able to support cricket as far down the pyramid as Division 6 North of the Derbyshire County League.
While the partnership with the county club helped secure the landmark signing of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Belper’s young cricketers have been provided with branded playing kit and community coaching thanks to investments from BuyMobiles.net/A1 Comms.
Derbyshire blew Somerset away - dismissing them for just 103 – before closing on 220-5 as 15 wickets fell on an extraordinary opening day at Taunton.
Tim Groenewald (5-33) – who claimed his third five-wicket haul of the campaign – and Tony Palladino (4-34) claimed nine wickets between them to dismiss the hosts inside 34 overs.
Karl Krikken's men responded with a 52-run opening stand, before an unbeaten 93-run partnership between Tom Poynton (53 not out) and Richard Johnson (55 not out) pushed home their advantage, as the visitors sealed a 117-run lead at stumps.
Derbyshire did the damage during an astonishing morning session in which the hosts lost seven wickets to slump to 69-7 at lunch.
Mark Footitt (1-25) got the early breakthrough removing former England opener Marcus Trescothick for 17 - and the wickets soon tumbled as Groenewald and Palladino tore through the Somerset top and middle-order.
Groenewald claimed five scalps to return figures of 5-33, including four maidens, off his 13.1 overs and passed 200 first-class wickets for Derbyshire.
Derbyshire has been awarded a major tour match against India at the County Ground, Derby, in 2014.
Karl Krikken’s men will compete against MS Dhoni’s side in a three day fixture starting on Tuesday, 1st July in the final warm-up fixture ahead of the five-match Investec Test series with England.
Duncan Fletcher’s side – currently ranked the number three Test team in the world – boast a heavily experienced and exciting side featuring Test legends such as Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar. They last toured England in 2011.
Chief Executive Simon Storey said: “Tour matches at Derby have been popular over the last few years with the visits of Australia in 2010, South Africa in 2012 and New Zealand this season and we are delighted to have been selected to host the touring Indian side in 2014.
© 2015 Derbyshire County Cricket Club
The 3aaa County Ground, Grandstand Road, Derby DE21 6AF.
Tel: 01332 388 101
Website design by: www.thisismedia.co.uk