Lancashire lost their fourth Friends Provident Twenty20 match of the summer after a batting collapse against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.
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After Glen Chapple won the toss and elected to bat on a used pitch, the Lightning slumped to 22-5 in the sixth over of this North Division fixture.
The signs were not good when Stephen Moore had his middle stump uprooted by Tim Groenewald with the third ball of the match. And the South African seamer also had Steven Croft and Mark Chilton caught at mid wicket by Jonathan Clare for single figure scores.
Paul Horton was trapped lbw by Charl Langeveldt, whilst veteran pace bowler Steffan Jones had Tom Smith caught behind by Lee Goddard for ten.
Wicketkeeper Gareth Cross fashioned a recovery of sorts with a career best 65 not out off 51 balls. With captain Glen Chapple (21) providing support, the pair added an important 63 in eight overs for the seventh wicket to help post 132-7.
But Garry Park’s 50 off 44 balls was enough for the Falcons to win by five wickets with eleven balls to spare, keeping the hosts in the hunt for a quarter final place. Groenewald scooped the man of the match award with 3-18.
Cross said: “It was one of those things. We’ve just come straight off the back of a four-day game, and it was a bit of a freaky half an hour that we had.
“But I thought that we stuck in well. We could have quite easily won it with a little bit of luck here and there. There were a few nicks which went for four.”
Nathan McCullum hit the first six of the Red Rose county’s innings in the seventh over when he launched Greg Smith over long on. McCullum and Cross shared 37 in six overs for the sixth wicket before the Kiwi found Smith at long off when trying to repeat the dose off the left arm spin of Robin Peterson.
Cross offered a caught and bowled chance to Peterson on 21, but swept the same bowler for six in the next over, the 16th.
His skipper played an important supporting before holing out to a diving Smith at square leg off Langeveldt in the last.
Lancashire, with Cross the main instigator, took 18 off the last over of the innings, bowled by Langeveldt. Cross flicked the last ball of the innings out of the ground for his second maximum.
“It was actually a really good pitch and quite good to bat on,” commented Cross. “The batters have just admitted that we just caught in two minds as to what to do, whether to play the big shots or not.”
Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan and McCullum kept their side in the hunt with a wicket apiece in the opening exchanges of Derbyshire’s reply.
Kerrigan bowled Wes Durston in the second over of the innings before McCullum had South African international Loots Bosman stumped by Cross to leave the score at 12-2 in the third.
Smith and Garry Park then shared 47 for the third wicket in seven overs before Stephen Parry struck in his second over. He had the former caught at long off by Kerrigan for 18 to leave the hosts at 59-3 in the tenth.
That brought Peterson to the crease, and almost immediately he got his side going somewhat fortuitously with two edged boundaries off Kerrigan in the 12th over. The South African shared 55 in seven overs for the fourth wicket with Park.
A combination of Kerrigan, McCullum and Daren Powell (0-14 from three) had kept the Falcons in check, restricting them to 95-3 after 15 and at that point a couple of good overs could have swung it Lancashire’s way.
But Parry’s third went for 15 as Peterson and Park hit out to bring their side within 23 of their target with four overs still to go.
Peterson was run out for 28 going for two to Croft at long off, while Park skewed Parry to Mark Chilton at point the ball after he brought up his half century.
But Derbyshire still had enough in the tank to clinch the victory at the start of the penultimate over.
McCullum finished with 1-25 and Kerrigan 1-27, and they were the pick of the Lightning bowlers.
Lancashire are still in the top four places in the North Division with six matches to play as they look to secure a quarter final berth.
The first of those is against bottom side Worcestershire Royals at Old Trafford tomorrow evening, the first of four home games on the bounce.
Cross added: “We’ve got a couple of games in hand. If we beat Worcester, we’ll be back up to second or third with a game still in hand.”
Graham Hardcastle at Chesterfield
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd