Allround Middlebrook downs Derby
Northamptonshire 172 for 5 beat Derbyshire 171 by five wickets
Graham Wagg's last home game as a Derbyshire player ended in defeat after an impressive allround display by James Middlebrook took Northamptonshire to a five-wicket Clydesdale Bank 40 victory. Wagg, who is leaving the club after five seasons and is expected to join Glamorgan, took the first two wickets as the Steelbacks slipped to 76 for 5 before Middlebrook followed his 3 for 34 with an unbeaten 57, his highest one-day score.
Skipper Andrew Hall and Lee Daggett also took three wickets to restrict the Falcons to 171, with Chesney Hughes scoring 55 from 62 balls, but the Steelbacks were in trouble until Stephen Peters (53 not out) and Middlebrook shared an unbroken stand of 96 in 14 overs.
Hughes had given the Falcons a decent start but the rest of the batting struggled against some disciplined seam and spin bowling on a sluggish pitch. The Steelbacks conceded only three wides and the 16 overs of spin from Middlebrook and Tom Brett cost just 61 which stifled the Falcons in mid-innings.
Hughes hit seven fours before he was neatly stumped off a quicker ball from Middlebrook but no other batsman found the boundary until Dan Redfern glanced Daggett to fine leg in the 31st over. There were only 11 fours and a big six onto the pavilion roof from Jon Clare in the entire innings which ended swiftly once Redfern pulled Daggett to deep square leg in the 35th over.
Hall mopped up the tail by taking the last three wickets in seven balls at a cost of two runs but the Steelbacks' pursuit of their target quickly stalled as Wagg removed both openers in the first seven overs. Mal Loye's lean run continued when he failed to clear mid-on and Wagg took an acrobatic return catch after Rob Newton top edged a paddle sweep with the score on 19.
The Falcons' total looked even more formidable when Tim Groenewald bowled Alex Wakely with one that nipped back and David Sales clipped a full toss from offspinner Jake Needham to short midwicket. At 40 for 4, the game was slipping away from the Steelbacks who had a lot to do when Hall fell to a fine diving catch by wicketkeeper Steve Adshead, but Peters and Middlebrook batted calmly to take their team home.
They wanted 60 from the last 10 overs but Wagg's return to the attack proved a turning point. He had conceded only 11 from his first five overs but his sixth cost 19 including a straight six over the sightscreen by Middlebrook and a free hit which Peters pulled for four. Despite some uncertain running, the sixth-wicket pair did not look like being parted and there were three overs to spare when they wrapped up their fourth victory in Group B.