Derbyshire 323 (Durston 116) and 94 for 0 (Guptill 66*) beat Essex 182 (Wainwright 5-51) and 234 (Foster 96) by 10 wickets
Karl Krikken has been head of cricket at Derbyshire for just over a year and the anniversary was toasted with a thumping victory. It was reward for his work not only in charge of the first team for 12 months but in his previous job as academy director.
The team he has moulded together totally dominated an opposition many others had tipped for promotion. The Derbyshire dominance was confirmed by the 18 overs it took to reach their target of 94. Martin Guptill, perhaps the best overseas player in the game currently, thumped a 42-ball half-century to polish off a wonderful three days - three days that saw Derbyshire win a fourth game in seven.
Guptill missed out in the first innings with a poor stroke but atoned in sublime fashion, lifting Charl Willoughby over his head for six, then over mid-on for four, then through cover off a length for four more. It was an emphatic innings and highlighted how he caps off a squad nicely blended by Krikken with home-grown talent and astute acquisitions.
Of the home-grown, Paul Borrington, a Repton schoolboy, needed runs and got a confidence-boosting 30 not out, playing a couple of commanding drives of his own and lifting Tom Craddock past mid-off for four, then through midwicket to finish the game. Another four players in the XI have been part of the Derbyshire academy, which was only established eight years ago but is now beginning to bear fruit.
"We always knew some of those academy guys would come through," said Krikken, who was Derbyshire's first academy director before replacing John Morris as head coach last May. "And fortunately we've signed some very good players, some from out of the wilderness really." Those from the wilderness include Wes Durston, whose century continued his excellent form and whose part-time offspin claimed the key wicket of Owais Shah during a morning session where Derbyshire took three wickets and effectively won the game.
Shah was far too early on a short ball and lost his leg stump. Durston also claimed the catch from Mark Pettini's top-edged pull - a similar shot to that which saw David Masters very well caught by Jon Clare running back from midwicket to gave David Wainwright his eighth wicket in the match.
Wainwright was also brought in from the wilderness. In the morning he produced another classic to take out Ben Foakes' middle stump. He provides a service the envy of all sides - a genuine match-winning bowler. "He has been brilliant," said Tim Groenewald, who joined from Warwickshire in 2009. "He's fitted into the side really well and it's been the case with a lot of guys from other clubs, you move elsewhere you come to life."
Groenewald was alive on the second evening with two wickets while Essex were still behind. He had Tymal Mills lbw to complete an outstanding match haul of 5 for 52 in 31 overs. Groenewald's smile was evidence of a side filled with belief. Their players, some hungry from a lack of cricket elsewhere, are joyful to be playing the game; Wainwright could have bowled every over himself, such was the way he charged back to his bowling mark to skip in again. It was his first-innings haul that set up the win.
Also behind the success has been the new captain Wayne Madsen - unexpectedly given the job before the start of the season after Luke Sutton's retirement. "After we lost Luke we wondered if we had a leader in the side but Wayne's come in and been immense," Krikken said. "And our overseas player, Martin Guptill, has also been immense and he's one of the lads, in the field he chases things, he throws himself about, we even had him doing twelfth-man duties last year. They've all bought into what we're doing; it's a really good dressing room.
"We're a good side. They're young players who are still learning. We'll even take a lesson from today, in how we bowled at James Foster."
Foster made 96 largely slog-swept runs, some from a guard outside off stump, as he tried to farm the bowling from seven wickets down. He and Willoughby, who was 0 not out, added 39 for the tenth wicket, the only thing Krikken had to criticise his players.
There is a slight cautionary note to go with Derbyshire's positive start. They are yet to play Kent or Yorkshire - second and third at the moment - and they will lose Guptill after the Friends Life t20. But Usman Khawaja is a talented replacement and this win was a sign that Derbyshire have a squad capable of outperforming everyone's expectations.