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 and Middlesex at Derby, the focus is on the quarter final game against Somerset at Taunton.
It seemed totally illogical to be playing a quarter final after playing a first round tie. This anomaly arose because the opening game had been in what was termed the ‘Preliminary Round, followed by the ‘First Round’.
Several counties, Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Kent were joined by Combined Universities, Minor Counties and Scotland in the Preliminary Round, with the winners then joining the other 11 first class counties in the First Round draw.
It made no sense then, and even less now, to not have called the Preliminary Round the First Round, and the First Round the Second Round.
Nonetheless, the quarter final at Taunton was eagerly anticipated by players and supporters. The Somerset headquarters was renowned for its atmosphere and Derbyshire had enjoyed some recent success there in one day cricket.
The game had a spare day set aside to cater for potentially inclement weather, an eventuality much-needed then as we shall see, and something never considered in domestic cricket in the modern game.
Two days earlier, Derbyshire had won a low-scoring Sunday League game against Essex at Chelmsford on a slow, flat pitch. Nick Knight had scored 54 for the hosts without registering a single boundary, and Barnett’s 42 in reply occupied 125 balls. Matthew Vandrau and Simon Base saw Derbyshire home by two wickets before they made their way westwards to Taunton.
The game began after a delayed start and Derbyshire reached 69-0 after 20.3 overs, before further heavy rain left no further play possible.
Both captains, Kim Barnett and Chris Tavare debated – at times forcefully – the options for a restarted game on the second day, the umpires at this time not being the sole arbiters of conditions being fit or otherwise for play.
The first game was therefore abandoned, and with the skippers unable to agree on a 10- or 20-over game, it was decided that a bowl-out was the only way to determine the winners of the tie.
In 1991, Derbyshire had been the first county to suffer a bowl-out defeat at the hands of Hertfordshire at Bishop’s Stortford in a Nat West Trophy tie, and lessons had been learned from that disaster.
Instead of using specialist seam bowlers, who had bowled standard, just outside the top off stump deliveries at Bishop’s Stortford, Barnett turned to Matthew Vandrau, Chris Adams, Pater Bowler and himself, plus Cork to each deliver two balls.
A mixture of slow non-spinning deliveries and full tosses were the order of the day as Vandrau (1), Adams (2), Barnett (1), Cork (1) and Bowler (1) struck the unguarded stumps 6 times to win the bowl-out 6-3.
It was a wholly unsatisfactory way to decide a cricket match, but there was no alternative; two days had been scheduled to complete the game, but the rain simply didn’t relent long enough for the game to take its normal course. Even the bowl-out took place in terrible conditions.
Nonetheless, the result meant that Derbyshire were into the semi finals of the Benson and Hedges Cup for the fourth time and ears were glued to the radio on the journey home from Taunton as the draw revealed Northamptonshire would be their opponents at Derby on 8th June.
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