This year marks the 30th anniversary of Derbyshire’s Benson and Hedges Cup win over Lancashire at Lord’s.
To commemorate Derbyshire’s last win in a Lord’s final, Heritage Officer David Griffin is compiling a series of articles for the club website detailing each game in the competition.
In this latest instalment, following wins over Gloucestershire at Bristol, Middlesex at Derby, and Somerset at Taunton, the focus is on the semi-final game against Northamptonshire at Derby.
The weather in the opening rounds of this competition had not been kind, but by way of contrast, the semi-final against Northamptonshire at Derby was played in tortuously hot and steamy conditions, in front of a crowd somewhere in the region of 5,000.
Northamptonshire had a strong side; Rob Bailey, Allan Lamb, Mal Loye and David Capel provided serious back-up to the openers Alan Fordham and Nigel Felton, Kevin Curran was an excellent all-rounder and a fine player to have coming in at number seven, with Paul Taylor, a former Derbyshire player who went on to play Test cricket for England, and the world class West Indian fast bowler Curtley Ambrose to open the bowling.
The Derbyshire way has often been to win against the odds – the final itself would demonstrate that – and often in a nail-biting fashion, but not on this occasion.
Form was a problem going into the game, however; since the bowl-out win at Taunton Derbyshire had drawn a championship game against Hampshire at Derby, suffered an abandonment against the same opposition in the Sunday League at Checkley, and lost both games against Middlesex at Lord’s in the championship and Sunday League.
Kim Barnett won the toss and Devon Malcolm took early wickets before Bailey and Lamb rebuilt the innings with half centuries. Dominic Cork returned to remove both, and the innings ran out of steam ending on 210 all out with 10 balls unused.
Malcolm, a tearway with questionable radar in his early days, bowled 10 overs – three of them maidens – and took three for 23 and Warner took one for 19 off 9.2 overs; it was high class bowling by both openers, backed up by Cork (three for 46) as Vandrau and Griffith took the other wickets, with one run out.
As the day grew hotter, spectators recognised that Ambrose was the likeliest threat to Derbyshire, and he tore in at Barnett and Bowler. All Northamptonshire’s bowlers were accurate and economical and although the opening pair put on 102, once they departed, 92 were still required from 15 overs.
The pitch was slow, unlike the usual surfaces then at Derby, and strokeplay was not easy, but John Morris and Chris Adams batted as though they were playing in a benefit match.
Their timing, shot selection and general approach to the task in hand was thrilling to watch. Ambrose held no fears for them, and the pair added 95 in 12 overs to take Derbyshire to a comfortable eight wicket victory.
After the nail-biting semi-final wins in 1981 and 1988, this seemed like a walk in the park and when the winning runs were struck hundreds of spectators surged onto the outfield, Adams and Morris, the Gold Award winner, embraced, and Derbyshire supporters began to dream once more of silverware.
It was pre-Internet days, so queues formed outside the club offices when tickets went on sale to members just days later for what would turn out to be Derbyshire’s last Lord’s final with Lancashire as their opponents.
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