Michael Dighton returns to haunt Derbyshire
Netherlands 209 for 3 beat Derbyshire 206 by seven wickets
Michael Dighton celebrated his return to Derby with a match-winning century that gave the Netherlands their first victory in the Clydesdale Bank 40 League. The 34-year-old Tasmania veteran scored a superb unbeaten 110 from 106 balls against the county he played for three years ago as the Dutch chased down a target of 207 on a slow pitch to clinch a seven-wicket win with four balls to spare.
It condemned Derbyshire to their fourth defeat in Group B despite 73 from 91 balls by skipper Chris Rogers but no other batsman reached 30 for the home side. The game was in the balance when the Netherlands needed 76 from the last 10 overs but Dighton and former Sussex batsman Bas Zuiderent kept their nerves to seal a notable victory with an unbroken stand of 127 in 17 overs.
Netherlands had started well after putting the Falcons in, with Mark Jonkman yorking Chesney Hughes in the second over. When Robin Peterson was caught behind down the legside off Jonkman, the home side were 33 for 2 but Rogers once again proved to be the key wicket for Derbyshire.
The Falcons skipper seized on anything short or overpitched to reach 50 from 63 balls but none of the other batsmen could come to terms with the conditions. Wes Durston flickered briefly on his debut, depositing Pietar Seelaar over wide long-on into a car park, but the left-arm spinner emerged with credit to finish with three wickets for 39 runs from seven overs.
When Rogers skied a pull to point, the Falcons were in danger of falling short of 200 and went into the last 10 overs with a lot to do on 149 for 6. John Sadler drove Mudassar Bukhari over long-off for six but clipped the next ball into the hands of midwicket and it needed some powerful blows from Steffan Jones to take the Falcons past 200.
The Welshman hit 22 off 14 balls and was out to the last ball of the innings, caught at long-on off Seelaar going for his fifth four - but he had taken his side to a challenging total on a sluggish surface.
Netherlands scored only 40 from the first 10 overs but Dighton made sure they never lost touch by pacing his innings well to reach his third fifty in the competition off 56 balls. Although he and Zuiderent did not hit a boundary for nine overs, they worked the ball around to chip away at the target which was reduced when Jones sent a wide sliding down the legside to the boundary.
Dighton, whose highest score for Derbyshire was 68, reached his hundred off 103 balls and he celebrated by driving Tom Lungley over long-on for his second six in the penultimate over. Fittingly, it was Dighton who hit the winning runs by driving Garry Park through the covers for his ninth four to give the Netherlands only their second victory over a county side and their first in England.