Derbyshire 166 for 5 (Godleman 70*) beat Yorkshire 164 for 8 (Thompson 50, Watt 4-19) by five wickets
Yorkshire’s David Willey runs in to bowl to Billy Godleman. The ball is speared down leg side and races away for five wides. On the instant a deep-throated cheer comes up from most of the supporters who ring Queen’s Park. Chesterfield’s festival, once threatened, always cherished, has ended in a five-wicket victory for the home side over one of their traditional rivals.
The atmosphere is festal; the air, almost tropical earlier in the day, has freshened towards evening. A jazz band will play in the beer tent later and you can be assured plenty of ale will be supped to celebrate Derbyshire beginning their Vitality Blast campaign with a win. Godleman, whose unbeaten 70 has anchored his side’s innings, is applauded back to the pavilion. Home supporters are grateful their side had five balls to spare. English cricket has had enough of ties.
Visiting supporters rightly bemoan the absence of Matthew Fisher who has had to leave the field in the third over of Derbyshire’s innings with a dislocated right shoulder. Fisher’s left-arm pace bowling might have made 164 an even more competitive total. As it is, Yorkshire have had to bowl 11 overs of spin, not necessarily a problem on a used pitch, but a limitation on Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s options. None of which worries the children who are playing games on other used wickets or the supporters enjoying the sun and wondering if Dominic Cork’s arrival as T20 coach will help their side reach their first T20 Finals Day.
Yet Cork is not the first man to be interviewed when the players emerge from the pavilion and nor does Godleman win the man of the match award. That honour falls to Mark Watt, a 22-year-old slow left-armer from Edinburgh, whose four wickets for 19 runs ensured Yorkshire’s array of T20 hitters never launched an uninhibited assault on the shorter boundaries around the tree-lined ground.
“Meet George Stephenson” suggested one flyer outside the restaurant at Queen’s Park this lunchtime. “Meet a medieval surgeon,” urged another as the custodians of Chesterfield’s museum placed even greater faith in the power of time travel or the credulousness of the town’s tourists. We will never know how many of the five-and-a-half thousand souls who crammed into one of England most famous outgrounds took the tourist board up on their offers. But to judge from the folk queueing up for the post-match signing session quite a few people were interested in meeting Watt.
One could see their point. Victories over Yorkshire are treasured occasions in these parts and Watt’s wickets on his Derbyshire debut did more than anything to set up his side’s triumph. Nor were Watt’s victims death-over donations. Brought into the attack in the sixth over from the Pavilion End, he removed Willey, Harry Brook, Gary Ballance and Nicholas Pooran to leave Yorkshire on 77 for 6 after 11.3 overs of their innings.
At that point Watt’s accuracy and subtle changes of length and pace looked to have done enough to ensure his team would be chasing a low total. Ballance, bowled when reverse-sweeping, and Pooran, hitting the seventh ball of his Yorkshire career straight to long-off, had given him all the assistance he needed.
But the visitors were rescued by Jordan Thompson, whose maiden first-team fifty included five crowd-scattering sixes. Thompson put on 66 in less than seven overs with Jonny Tattersall before he skied Logan van Beek to wicketkeeper Daryn Smit in the penultimate over. Tattersall’s canny 39 off 31 balls and Fisher’s big six in the final over saw Yorkshire to 164, a plainly defendable total on a used pitch. Fisher’s day, however, was about to get very much worse when he dived to prevent a boundary and stood up clutching his shoulder.
In time, of course, so did Yorkshire’s, although Dom Bess’s removal of Luis Reece and Wayne Madsen, both leg before wicket, kept the result in doubt. Yet at no point in Derbyshire’s innings did they lose control of their pursuit and scoring eight runs an over is a familiar task for batsmen as experienced as Godleman. Leus du Plooy helped when he got inside the line of Bess’s final over and whacked two sixes to the right of the Norway maple. Du Plooy was caught at short third man off Thompson for 30 but Matthew Critchley maintained the momentum towards what is Derbyshire’s fifth successive T20 win over Yorkshire.
And maybe visiting supporters sporting their Leeds and Sheffield United shirts should not have been too surprised. Yorkshire have not won a T20 game at Chesterfield since 2014 and home fans clearly arrived ready to drink deeply whatever the outcome. Even the school bus was a bar. Well, it is the end of term.