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Hard toil ends long wait for Derbyshire



Derbyshire 265 (Viljoen 60*, Harris 4-68) and 333 for 3 dec (Reece 157*, Slater 99) beat Middlesex 157 (Olivier 4-26) and 340 (Harris 64*, Helm 52, Olivier 4-82) by 101 runs

At the 24th time of asking Derbyshire have finally won a Championship match at home. When the run was broken, it came in the most unlikely circumstances: Middlesex, the big boys from the smoke, champions in 2016 and the most unlikely relegation victims a year later, vanquished by 101 runs.

Derbyshire have got a monkey off their backs, although as it was St George’s Day, it should be conceded that as achievements go that is not quite as exciting as slaying a dragon.

When release came at 5.12pm, with 14 overs to spare, a modest crowd let out a brief cheer then got up and went home looking mightily relieved. Middlesex’s last seven wickets had not been relinquished readily.

That was particularly true of the ninth-wicket pair of James Harris and Tom Helm who added 106 in 31 overs, taking the game deep into the final session, Helm registering a maiden first-class fifty and Harris, who Middlesex believe can develop into a fully-fledged allrounder, providing evidence for the cause with an unbeaten 62.

Although 24 matches might be a long time, Derbyshire have endured worse. Dave Houghton was their coach for the longest unsuccessful home Championship run of all, at the turn of the century, and as fate often has it, he was looking on again in his current role as Middlesex’s batting coach.

Then there is always the comparison with Derby County FC. From September 2007, the football club embarked upon a run of 38 league games without a win. During that run they were relegated from the Premier League with a record low number of points and a bookmaker paid out on them being relegated after only six matches.

Derbyshire have not remotely reached those subterranean standards. Their home ground has improved markedly in recent seasons, a pleasure to visit, so any sense of better times ahead should be celebrated. And last season they reached the quarter-finals of the NatWest Blast.

If they have not yet had cause to move the trophy cabinet out of the Boardroom, where pride of place is given to the 1936 Championship-winning side, at least they have had cause to remember where it is.

All in all, they are inured to lean spells in these parts and regard them as good for the soul – something akin to a cricketing diet: you feel all the better when you get the chance to gorge on something tasty. Not many counties have been asked by a senior executive at the ECB: “Why do you bother?” How many reasons did he want? And failure does give the members something to grumble about at the AGM.

But things are rarely as bad as they sound. Nearly all bleak runs carry memories of great finishes, of entertainment provided, of chances spurned. Since Derbyshire’s previous home win, against Leicestershire in September 2014, three missed opportunities stand out.

Leicestershire might have been beaten at the end of 2015 but when Derbyshire’s eighth wicket fell, with 10 still needed off five balls, the coach at the time, Graeme Welch, insisted that they blocked out because he could not countenance losing to Leicestershire twice in the same season. If only he had known what was to befall them.

The following season, they were well placed against Gloucestershire only for the final day to be washed out. And in 2017 most regrets centre around the visit of Northamptonshire when some fine smiting by Richard Levi, who made 99 from 79 balls, enabled their opponents to chase down 326 with three wickets and a ball to spare.

Derbyshire had declared on the third evening, setting Middlesex 442 for victory, the highest chase achieved against them in their history. The loss of three wickets by the close had emphasised that the target was purely notional and two wickets fell early on the fourth morning – the nightwatchman, Ollie Rayner, slickly caught to his left at first slip by Wayne Madsen and Max Holden nibbling at a ball from Hardus Viljoen that was angled across him.

Derbyshire’s pace bowling stocks are not deep, so it is hard not to watch Viljoen, Duanne Olivier and Ravi Rampaul with a sense of trepidation that they might come to grief at any moment. As lunch approached, Derbyshire were forced to look to more part-time practitioners and it paid better dividends than they would have dared to hope as Paul Stirling, on 42, gave Luis Reece a return catch and Simpson was lbw to Wayne Madsen’s offspin in the final over of the session.

Seven down at lunch was a comfortable place to be. Two injured Middlesex seamers, Harris and Toby Roland-Jones, the extent of their injuries not yet known, then resisted until mid-afternoon at which point Roland-Jones’ enterprising resistance was broken by the legspin of Matt Critchley.

But the second new ball brought nothing, apart from some playing and missing at wide balls and Derbyshire entered tea still needing two wickets. It seemed to be taking an age. To think that Bob Taylor, one of Derbyshire’s most famous sons, once stood behind the timbers long enough to take 2,069 dismissals: by now two seemed taxing enough.

At tea, the Derbyshire photographer, historian and former committee member David Griffin was giving Jigar Naik a mention. “I have nightmares about it still,” he said. Nine years ago, Derbyshire had Leicestershire seven down, and more than 200 behind, entering the final day at Grace Road. They shook hands on a draw that evening as Naik celebrated what remains as his only first-class century.

Helm’s previous first-class best was 28, but he made untroubled progress, striking Critchley’s legspin for six shortly before reaching his maiden first-class fifty. He fell lbw soon afterwards, struck on the back leg by the same bowler.

Fourteen overs were left when Tim Murtagh, no mug at No. 11 but another Middlesex seamer clearly struggling with injury, was bowled by Olivier as he failed to get in line – the South African’s eighth in the match. Derbyshire had their home win after 1306 days, manufactured by three bowlers with Test credentials;, for Middlesex, it was a reminder that even though they are overwhelmingly fancied to return to Division One at the first time of asking, nothing comes automatically. They know that and they will prosper.

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Recent Match Report – Australia Women vs New Zealand Women 1st T20I 2020



Australia 6 for 138 (Gardner 61, Devine 3-18) beat New Zealand 7 for 121 (Bates 33, Schutt 4-23) by 17 runs

On a day Australia’s cricketers made a public statement of solidarity with Aboriginal Australia in their opening match of the new season, it was the ferocious counterattack of the Muruwari woman Ashleigh Gardner that gave Australia enough runs to comfortably defend against New Zealand for victory at Allan Border Field in Brisbane.

On a windy afternoon and at times tricky pitch, the hosts were far from from the fluency they had displayed in the Twenty20 World Cup decider back in March. But Garder’s powerful striking ensured that they had enough runs to pressure the visitors into error. That all this came in the absence of Ellyse Perry, even as she gets to the finish of her recovery from a serious hamstring injury, made it more special.

New Zealand and their captain, Sophie Devine, were on the wrong end of a couple of contentious moments. First, Devine had a raucous caught behind appeal turned down against Nicola Carey when the Australian innings wobbled. Then in the chase, Devine was adjudged stumped off Delissa Kimmince’s bowling in a decision that was marginal at best.

Nos. 1 and 5 make just 2 and 6

Australia’s previous match, the small matter of a T20 World Cup final in front of more than 86,000 spectators at the MCG in March, was more or less decided by the opening partnership of Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy. Mooney batted through the innings after Healy had crashed an opening salvo of boundaries that India could not cope with. But in the quieter, windier surrounds of Allan Border Field, neither Mooney nor Healy could get going, on a surface that required a little more careful assessment than the MCG’s had done.

Mooney was facing her fourth ball when she tried to get after Rosemary Mair and managed only to spoon a catch to mid-off. Healy and Meg Lanning formed the foundations of a partnership before Healy also tried to force the pace and could only loop a catch to cover. Australia’s Powerplay at the MCG had reaped 0 for 49; this one scraped 2 for 33.

Gardner thrives after Devine intervention

That sluggish start provided Devine with an ideal scenario in which to pressure the Australians still further with ring fields. Her own excellent combination of a tight line and subtle variations in pace on a pitch that also offered its own inconsistencies helped too. Her third over fetched the wickets of Rachael Haynes and Sophie Molineux, as both fell trying to clear the inner ring and reach the boundary. Devine should have had a third when Nicola Carey edged behind but was reprieved when the umpire apparently missed the nick due to the wind. Without any technology available, New Zealand couldn’t take the DRS.

At the other end, Gardner was slowly building into her innings, doing so with the confidence of a performer who knows how quickly her enormous power can help “catch-up” an innings after a sedate start. Against the leg breaks of Amelia Kerr, Gardner aimed for straight midwicket with devastating effect, crashing two of her three sixes in the space of three balls. A trio of further boundaries took Gardner as far as 61, the third highest score by an Australian at No. 5 or lower – the other top three scores all contributed by Haynes.

Healy’s photo finish

If Devine had a right to feel hard done by after Carey was given not out and then stayed on right to the end of Australia’s innings, the feeling was enhanced just as she and Suzie Bates appeared to be building a sound foundation for New Zealand’s chase. Delissa Kimmince appealed for caught behind as ball drifted down the leg side and brushed Devine’s pad on the way through to Healy, but as New Zealand’s captain overbalanced slightly, the gloves were whipped off for a stumping chance.

It was extremely close – made to look tighter still by the fact that Australia’s uniforms are black, the same colour as the sponsored bails – and the most likely result was that Healy had lifted the bails in the frame between Devine lifting her foot and returning it to safety. Nevertheless, the third umpire Michael Graham-Smith chose to give Devine out, breaking up the pivotal partnership of the innings and allowing Lanning and her bowlers to tighten things up still further.

Lanning, Schutt close the net

With Devine and Bates separated, the Australians had engineered for themselves a position from which they lose remarkably few matches – one of being able to gradually push up the required run rate up the point where the pressure creates a flow of opposition wickets. Lanning was helped on this day by the sluggishness of the pitch and the challenges presented by the breeze, as her bowlers worked through now familiar sequences of discipline, backed by a familiar desperation in the field.

With the exception of Georgia Wareham’s two overs and Gardner’s one, none of the Australians conceded more than six runs per over, and the most effective performer was, as is so often the case, the miserly and resourceful Schutt. After her first two overs went wicketless and cost 15, she returned at the death with the run rate in her favour, and capitalised supremely by scooping the wickets of Bates, Katie Martin, Kerr and Hayley Jensen. Give Lanning, Schutt and their fielders any sort of total to defend and they are fiendishly tough to beat.

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‘Lived his life with every bit of energy’



Jane Jones, Dean Jones‘ wife of 34 years and the mother of their two children, has spoken of the family’s grief at losing the 59-year-old to a heart attack and of their gratefulness for the global outpouring of gratitude for his eventful life in cricket.

A major commemorative celebration will take place for Jones, with his wife indicating that the family was eager for his life and contribution to so many would be rightly and appropriately recognised in memorium.

Plans are in motion to return Jones’ body to Australia after he died in Mumbai on Thursday while working as an IPL analyst for Star Sports alongside the likes of Scott Styris and Brett Lee. Jane Jones singled out Lee for thanks for his well-publicised effort to try to keep her husband alive.

“My girls and I are devastated and saddened beyond belief to hear of Dean’s death in India,” Jane Jones said in a statement. “My beautiful husband, the love of my life has lived his life with every bit of energy at his disposal, and he leaves an enormous gap in our lives which can never be filled. He leaves us with so many wonderful memories that will last forever.

“At this challenging time, when our grief is so raw, we have drawn much consolation from the many messages of goodwill and support from so many people around the world. Given Dean’s special love for the sub-continent, it was especially touching to hear so broadly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

“We are overwhelmed by the scale of the response to the news of his death and we will forever be grateful for that. We want to especially thank and acknowledge Brett Lee’s tireless efforts to keep Dean alive.”

Dean and Janes Jones were married in Toorak in 1986 and had made a home with their daughters in the Macedon Ranges town of Romsey, about an hour’s drive to the north-west of Melbourne, over the past 25 years.

“At this moment, we would sincerely ask the cricketing world to respect the privacy of our family,” Jones said. “Details of Dean’s memorial celebration will be released in due course, so everyone has the chance to rightly commemorate his wonderful legacy and bid farewell.”

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CSK vs Delhi Capitals, IPL 2020



Welcome to ESPNcricinfo’s Rolling Report of the seventh IPL 2020 match, between the Chennai Super Kings and the Delhi Capitals. CSK have won and lost a match each, and in their camp are the likes of MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi and others. On the other, are Shreyas Iyer, R Ashwin, Shimron Hetmyer, Shikhar Dhawan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Rishabh Pant, Kagiso Rabada, Prithvi Shaw, Marcus Stoinis, Ishant Sharma and others. Can the Capitals stay unbeaten?

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