Derbyshire head of cricket David Houghton couldn’t hide his disappointment in losing to Durham by 29 runs in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two - but is pleased with the side’s form overall.
Durham produced a thrilling performance late in the day to their first county championship win of the season and Houghton commented on the way Derbyshire’s opponents at the Emirates Riverside were able to steady their nerves.
Alex Lees set up a match-winning position with his first century for the hosts, displaying patience at the crease. His partnership with Ned Eckersley allowed the home side to set Derbyshire a total of 268 to chase. Momentum swung one way then the other on the final day as Durham initially held the advantage before the visitors struck back.
Matt Critchley appeared to have put his team on course for victory with an innings of 71. However, his dismissal late in the day produced a staggering collapse as the visitors lost their final four wickets in eight deliveries when Chris Rushworth and Ben Raine pounced. The result ended Durham’s worst start to the campaign, although they remain bottom of the table.
Houghton said: “Any side that loses a game like that is always going to feel disappointed, but I’m happy with the brand of cricket we’re playing at the moment. There was a time in the last 20 minutes where we could have pulled the plug to secure the draw.
“We felt that we played well enough to go the whole way. Fair play to them they bowled really well at the end, they got the ball going wicket-to-wicket. They held their nerve and got themselves a good win.”
Durham began the day with a 185-run lead and were able to build on their advantage as Lees and Eckersley reached their century stand from 22 overs, continuing their impressive work from Wednesday evening. Eckersley reached his first half-century for Durham from 91 deliveries, playing a vital knock alongside the opener. Their partnership was broken on 123 by Critchley when Eckersely picked out Logan van Deep on the leg-side boundary.
His dismissal sparked a collapse in the lower order as Raine, Brydon Carse and Matty Potts all fell cheaply. Lees was in a scramble to reach three figures, but he reached the milestone from 240 balls, getting over the line with a six off Critchley. The innings ended when Rushworth was run out, leaving the visitors a target of 268 after the hosts were bowled out for 242.
Derbyshire were solid in their response at the top of the innings as Luis Reece and Billy Godleman saw off the threat from the new ball. They were able to reach lunch unscathed, and the two players recorded their second fifty partnership of the game. However, Reece played a loose drive at a delivery from Potts and was caught behind by Eckersley. Wayne Madsen’s poor game continued when he collected a pair after falling to Raine for the second time in the match.
Rushworth was denied the scalp of Godleman when he overstepped after the opener edged to Cameron Bancroft at second slip. However, he was not to be denied, pinning the Derbyshire skipper lbw for 42 with a fine delivery. Tom Lace continued the procession for the visitors when he was bowled by Raine for 24 on the stroke of tea.
After the interval, Critchley led the Derbyshire counterattack putting the pressure back on the Durham bowlers with a flurry of boundaries. Bancroft has the opportunity to remove Critchley on 22, but he missed the opportunity off Potts. The Derbyshire man made him pay and put on fifty for the fifth wicket with Alex Hughes in 12.1 overs, whittling down the target for the visitors.
Critchley’s approach unsettled the home side, forcing Bancroft into numerous bowling changes. Carse was able to break the stand at 85 when he bowled Hughes for 40, although Critchley carried on to reach his second fifty of the game from 61 deliveries. Raine returned to halt the Derbyshire charge, removing Leus du Plooy who knicked behind to Eckersley.
The game hinged on Critchley and he seemingly had the chase in control before attempting to go for a big strike off Rushworth. He was caught on the boundary by Trevaskis, which saw his team crumble under the pressure. Derbyshire lost three wickets in four balls as Harvey Hosein was run out before Logan van Beek was bowled by Rushworth. Raine ended the innings to secure the victory for the hosts by bowling Palladino for a duck, prompting huge celebrations from the home side.