Derbyshire contest goes to the wire

Leicestershire v Derbyshire, Second XI Championship, Day 3:

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

I was on my best behaviour today at Kibworth for day three of the SEC match between Leicestershire, and Derbyshire as I had the wife accompanying me. This was because we were ‘hot footing’ it down to the FCG after the match finished for the NatWest T20 Blast game against Northamptonshire. The things I do to keep the female half of Team Johnson involved in my hectic schedule.

The match finished in a draw, but the latter half of the days play was very exciting to watch. Richard Jones and Dominic Manthorpe produced some fine bowling to put a brake on the visitors chase during the final overs of the day. This was backed up by two superb pieces of ground fielding when runs were at a premium, plus two top drawer catches. I will be waxing lyrically about them later in despatches.

Leicestershire declared on 292-8 following a period of contrived bowling. Derbyshire were set 281 to win in a minimum of 50 overs at a rate of 5.62 per over. The result was in the balance until there was just one ball left to be bowled, when the teams shook hands on a draw. Derbyshire finishing on 269-7, just 12 runs short of their target.

Leicestershire resumed on their overnight 21-0 with Paul Horton 11* and Harry Dearden 5*. The players took to the field on a cool, windy, fresh morning. Upon commencement of play I immediately noticed that the field at The Field End of the ground was occupied by a flock of sheep. The previous two days had seen a herd of cows in the same field. Amazing the things you notice that are totally irrelevant to your day to day life.

Horton proceeded to execute a series of delightful cover drives early in the morning’s play off Tom Milnes. Dearden also produced a lovely wristy flick through mid-wicket off Greg Cork that arrowed to the boundary. The pair posted a 50 partnership after 14.3 overs. Horton then took three boundaries with late cuts, between point and third man. Horton doing more cutting than a gardener in late October.

At 12.12pm we witnessed a sight that is very rarely seen in mid-July. Due to the strong wind, the umpires had to replace the standard bails with heavy bails. The normal bails having been on and off more times than relationships in Love Island (no I don’t watch it, but one does pick up whispers here, and there). Editor’s note – I know you watch it regularly!

Umpire Watts was duly prepared, having a pair of said heavy bails contained within his match day regalia. When the score had reached 83, Dearden (30) went lbw to Cork. Sam Evans joined Horton, and just afterwards Horton went to his 50 (8x4) from 68 balls with the score on 92-1 from 22.1.

The previous day I had been supplied with a constant conveyer belt of caffeine by the Derbyshire players and coach. I am pleased to report that a couple of the Leicestershire players gave a very impressive display in that direction as well. I will not mention names, but a certain left arm seamer takes the gold medal. On Day 1 a certain young right arm spinner showed much promise in the field of drinks procurement for non-playing staff. The gentleman responsible for our Academy also graduated with flying colours.

County brought up their 100 runs after 25 overs. With ball 4 of the 27th over, we witnessed something that I am told is a complete rarity. Debyshire spinner Matthew Sanczak (remember the chap who throws the ball from one hand to the other in his run up like a juggler), actually failed to catch the ball in his run up, and dropped it. For the record It turned out to be a maiden played out by Evans.

Horton and Evans posted a 50 partnership from 71 balls when the score reached 133-1 from 32.5 overs. Evans was looking solid supporting Horton, slowly accumulating, looking as though he may be in for the long haul as in his first innings.

Horton had played beautifully, but was out in the final over before lunch. Horton (83) was lbw to a ‘Paul Weller’ ball from Anhil Patel, the ball keeping very low, almost going underground. The skipper having faced 113 balls. County went into lunch on 146-2 from 36.3 overs, Evans 28* from 43 deliveries.

The captains became involved in furtive discussions about the possibility of a target being set for a run chase. Unofficial murmurings suggested that Derbyshire would accept a challenge of 280 in 50 overs.

Derbyshire employed part time bowlers soon after lunch who tossed the ball up, the fielders making no attempt to stop the ball reaching the boundary. We had 10 overs of ‘cricket capers’ in which the score went from 158-2 to 276-2. During this time Evans went to 82* and Will Fazakerley to 72*. I am sure Sam and Will would not want me to go OTT and give details of the milestones in their innings. Hey, but it will show in the averages lads! Back of the net!!

The bowling on offer brought back memories to me of my time at the peak of my career when I played many games in a club Second XI. There was one reason, and one reason only, why I was in the Second XI, that was because my Club at the time did not run a Third XI. Editor’s note – I've heard you were a handy player in your day, Pete.

Leicestershire declared on 276-2, setting Derbyshire 281 to win in a minimum of 50 overs at a rate of 5.62 per over. Slater and Michael Jones opened up for Derbyshire. The score had progressed to 19 when Slater (11) got underneath an attempted hook shot off Manthorpe, the ball spiralled high into the afternoon sky, and keeper Richard Bell ran some 15 to 20 yards, and took the catch in the ‘45’ area.

Charlie Macdonnel joined Jones, and the pair progressed slowly, and my thoughts then were on a 5.00pm handshake. Early in his innings Macdonnel took a fearsome blow in the groin area from a ball delivered by Ben Mike. Macdonnel fell to the ground in intense pain, and it looked as if it may be a nasty injury with the speed at which Umpire Watts signalled the physio onto the field.

Thankfully after some prolonged on field treatment Macdonnel was able to continue. People tend to find it amusing when cricketers get hit in a certain area, but it is far from funny if you are on the receiving end. Macdonnel continued, Mike politely asked if his mechanics were OK. Derbyshire went into tea on 55-1 from 17, needing a further 226 from a minimum of 33 overs. That 5.00pm handshake still looked on.

Soon after Tea Jones (19) went caught at slip by Horton off Mike. Patel joined Macdonnel, and the pair put the Peakites within touching distance of victory. Macdonnel went to his 50 (8x4) from 72 balls. The pair brought up their 50 partnership from 59 balls. Derbyshire brought up their 150 from 32.4 overs, a further 131 required from 17.2 overs.

The last hour arrived with Derbyshire on 158-2 from 34, requiring a further 123 to win from a minimum of 16. Macdonnel and Patel posted a 100 partnership from 97 balls with the score on 161-2 from 35.3 overs, a further 120 needed from a minimum of 14.3.

The pair were playing a ‘ramp’ shots on a few occasions, the ball duly flying way up over the keeper’s head. The day could come when a longstop is a designated fielding position.

Horton introduced Richard Jones and Dominic Butchart to the attack in an effort to restrict the flow of runs. Jones was keeping the rate down, and Butchart was bowling a number of dot balls but went for a couple of maximums from Patel.

Macdonnel, when on 80, was dropped at long-leg off Jones. Jones got his just reward when he bowled Macdonnel (91) from 109 balls. Derbyshire on 185-3 from 38.3, needing a further 96 from 11.3 overs.

Patel went to his 50 (4x4,1x6) from 57 balls. First innings centurion Tommy Taylor (1) was promoted up the order, but went brilliantly caught by Butchart at short third man off Jones. Peakites 197-4 off 40.1. A further 84 needed off 8.1 overs.

We then witnessed two excellent pieces of fielding, preventing certain boundaries. Butchart did a tremendous flying one handed stop at short third man to prevent a boundary off Jones (1 run taken). Then Mike did a superlative piece of fielding on the mid-wicket boundary to prevent another boundary (2 runs taken). I thought at the time those 2 pieces of fielding could have a major say in the result of the match.

Tom Milnes (13 from 10) was bowled by Jones. 217-5, a further 64 needed from 7.2 overs. Harvey Hosein joined Patel, and upped the rate. At this point County had the majority of their fielders posted on the boundary. Horton reintroduced Manthorpe to the attack to partner his trusted paceman Jones.

Patel (84) was dismissed by Jones, thanks to a real pressure catch by substitute fielder Charlie Page-Morris. Page-Morris showed nerves of steel to post himself underneath a skier on the third man boundary. Page-Morris standing directly in front of the Pavilion, took the catch two-handed, like a seasoned pro. In 10 years time he will still be talking about it in the bar, by that time it will no doubt have graduated to a diving one-handed catch. Only joking Charlie, great catch. I am told Charlie plays his club cricket for Kibworth, and was an 11th hour sub fielder.

After all that Derbyshire were 258-6 from 48.1, a further 23 required from 11 balls. All nine fielders were now on the boundary. Jones and Manthorpe were doing a cracking job of death bowling and were taking the game away from Derbyshire.

Hosein was joined by Greg Cork. Reminder, 23 required from 11 balls. Jones bowling, dot, 4,1,2,dot. Last over coming up Manthorpe bowling Derbyshire needing 16 to win. 2,1,dot,1.

Twelve runs required now off two balls. Hosein launches a delivery to long-on, Butchart on the fence, stays calm, caught it! Derbyshire 269-7, one ball remaining, handshakes all round. Great entertainment for the 20 or so usual suspects in attendance, plus, of course, Mrs Johnson (see start of current epistle).

Jones 4-64 from 14 and Manthorpe 2-43 from 11 doing a great job to prevent Derbyshire getting over the line. Mike chipping in with a creditable 1-48 from 11. An excellent bowling contribution with the ball from Jones, ably supported by the ever-dependable Manthorpe.

Match Drawn Leicestershire 11 points, Derbyshire 12 points. The game finished at 6.23pm. I hastily packed away, loaded the car, and made it to the FCG, 8 overs having been completed when I took my seat. Pity D-L-S had to have a say in the result. Mrs Johnson need not think she is getting into the comfort zone, expecting to be treated to watching two cricket matches in a day, every day.

Well that’s it then our final visit to Kibworth CC this season. Sincere thanks to Steve and his team for all their hard work on the ground. Very sincere thanks also to the four ladies who have worked tirelessly on the food side over the last three days. Alison, Angie, Janet, and Nicola, very well done and thanks again! I reckon I made more visits to the table over the three days than Mark Selby does at The Crucible in a fortnight. #topscran

* The two Second XI T20 games between Leicestershire and Derbyshire, scheduled to be played at Leicester Grammar School on Monday, were abandoned due to the weather.

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