Chesney Hughes hit his second unbeaten century of the season to take his run tally to 400 and secure a draw against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Hughes shared a double-hundred stand with Billy Godleman – who hit 94 – on the final day as Derbyshire batting through more than two sessions without losing a wicket to eradicate any chance of defeat.
The visitors had begun their second innings with a 146-run deficit from the first innings after Northamptonshire hit 470 with centuries for Jake Libby and Richard Levi after Derbyshire had scored 324 batting first with Shiv Thakor ending unbeaten on 83.
On another unseasonably cold day Derbyshire won the toss and chose to bat first on what looked to be a good pitch. New skipper Godleman, returning from injury to play his first match of the season, and Hughes started briskly with a flurry of boundaries. Both openers fell before lunch to some smart wicket-keeping by Rossington, but 111 for two at lunch seemed a promising situation for Derbyshire.
The position soon looked different after the interval as four wickets fell in twenty-six balls while only sixteen runs were added. When a seventh wicket fell Derbyshire had reached only 161. Tony Palladino joined Thakor and they concentrated on ensuring no further losses until tea which was taken at 213 for seven. They continued together until they had added a priceless 105 in thirty-four overs: at this point Palladino chopped on with his score on 49 (116 balls; 6 fours).
Luke Fletcher stayed with Thakor for another four overs at which point the umpires adjudged the light to be too poor for play to continue. Derbyshire started the second morning on 275 for eight and lost Fletcher after only ten balls. This brought in Andy Carter who once again helped his team to a batting point with some big shots. Thakor had played one of his best innings as he finished with an unbeaten 83 from 147 balls with eleven fours.
Northamptonshire’s openers played comfortably enough until lunch by which time they had reached 65 for no wicket. There was only time for eight balls to be bowled after lunch before the threatened rain arrived and increased until the conditions were too bad for any more play.
They continued on the third morning until the opening partnership had reached 109 at which point the in-form Duckett fell to Carter. There followed another stand for the second wicket which fell at 191 with Northamptonshire very much on top. Soon after the home side had gained their first batting point, three wickets fell in quick succession, two to Thakor and one to Wes Durston. 205 for two became 208 for five, and Derbyshire felt that things were going their way, but Levi and Rossington started something of a recovery with a partnership of 41 when an excellent diving catch in the gully by Durston off Luke Fletcher dismissed Rossington.
There followed a quite remarkable period of play when Rory Kleinveldt launched an attack which took him to fifty from only 20 balls (9 fours; 1 six). Having reached this milestone, Kleinveldt played a little more steadily, but he still scored well enough to take his partnership with Levi to 140 in 20 overs, and his own score within one hit of the second hundred of his career. In attempting that one hit he fell to a good catch at deep mid-wicket taken by Hamish Rutherford diving forward. His 97 had come from 69 balls with thirteen fours and three sixes.
Now White joined Levi and together this pair took the score to 438 for eight at the close with Levi on 84 not out. Northamptonshire continued to bat on the fourth morning and their innings eventually closed on 470 two balls after Levi had reached his hundred from 127 balls. Now Derbyshire, with a first innings deficit of 146, had little more to play for than a draw. They concentrated mainly on defence against an attacking field, although there was a little flurry as eighteen runs came from the last two overs before lunch when Derbyshire had reached 59 without loss.
When no wicket fell in the first few overs after lunch, it was clear that the game was going to drift towards another draw. Godleman and Hughes played watchfully towards the tea interval with both players passing their fifties – Hughes from 88 balls, Godleman from 110 balls. There was an unusual interlude when Northamptonshire claimed that Godleman was caught on the cover boundary, but the batsman believed that the ball had bounced. The umpires were unable to confirm that the catch was clean, so Godleman remained.
As predicted the game did go to the inevitable draw with the teams calling time at 4.50pm, Northamptonshire taking thirteen points to Derbyshire’s ten. Godleman just missed scoring a hundred when he hit his own wicket from the bowling of a part-timer, but Hughes had already reached his second century of the season from 162 balls (12 fours and 2 sixes).
Derbyshire 324 (89.2 overs) (SJ Thakor 83*, AP Palladino 49, CF Hughes 39, HD Rutherford 35, BA Godleman 32; M Azharullah 4 for 95, R Kleinveldt 3 for 90) and 229 for 1 (60.4 overs) (CF Hughes 109*, BA Godleman 94)
Northamptonshire 470 (124 overs) (RE Levi 104, JD Libby 102, RK Kleinveldt 97, BM Duckett 60, AG Wakely 35, GG White 23; SJ Thakor 3 for 65, A Carter 3 for 114, AP Palladino 2 for 104)
Match Drawn (Northamptonshire 13 points, Derbyshire 10)