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Billy Godleman’s Derbyshire may well relish the chance to tweak a few noses on Finals Day

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Edgbaston on the third Friday afternoon in September.

A few moments ago Dan Christian was chatting about Nottinghamshire’s second appearance in three years at the Vitality Blast T20 Finals Day. Christian has played for Australia, Barbados Tridents, Brisbane Heat, Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils, Hobart Hurricanes, Melbourne Renegades, Multan Sultans, Rising Pune Supergiant, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Trinbago Knight Riders.

In a few minutes’ time Moeen Ali will be explaining what it might mean were Worcestershire to retain the trophy on Saturday. Moeen has played for Royal Challengers Bangalore and was in England’s World Cup winning squad.

At the moment, though, Billy Godleman is talking about the same occasion. Godleman plays for Derbyshire.

Derbyshire have never been to Finals Day.

And yet you sense this is simply part of the motivation Godleman enjoys: a chance to tweak a few noses. His eyes are bright with enthusiasm as he talks about it all.

“I see it as an opportunity,” he said. “We have no pressure or expectation on us. At the start of the competition no one expected us to get to the quarter-finals let alone a semi-final. So we are happy to go fly under the radar and turn up and play some good cricket on the day.”

Godleman makes a good point. Derbyshire needed to win their last three matches in the North Group to qualify for the last eight. They did so. They travelled to Bristol for the quarter-final in which they were expected to lose to Gloucestershire. They won. And tomorrow they will take on Essex in the second semi-final at Edgbaston.

One gets the impression that Godleman cannot wait to get stuck in. But he is by no means the only member of Derbyshire’s squad bristling at such a prospect. The Finals Day freshmen have been coached to excellent effect this year by Dominic Cork, another cricketer who relished taking the world’s expectations and depositing them in the nearest incinerator.

“Corky played for the club for the majority of his career,” said Godleman. “He knows what it is to be a Derbyshire player: the underdog who has the opportunity to ruffle a few feathers among the bigger counties. That is something we relish.

“He’s brought lots of energy and for me as captain he has been incredibly insightful,” he continued. “I’ve been very fortunate to know Corky for a number of years now and he’s one of the finest cricket brains that you could wish to meet. For me to have access to his cricket nous on a one-to-one basis as coach-captain has been very beneficial. Corky is very much about us going out and playing our best cricket with freedom. His view is that cricketers play their best when they have that freedom and that’s what we have tried to create in this campaign.”

Plainly it has worked so far and it will be fascinating to see how Derbyshire’s players react when presented with a full-house at Edgbaston and the pressures of the biggest occasion most of them have encountered.

“We like to think we have a method and we are just really excited to have the opportunity to play a semi-final and maybe a final as well,” said Godleman. “There’s a range of emotions and everyone’s different. There is a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves and a lot of apprehension but what I’ve sensed from the group is that the overriding emotion is the excitement of the opportunity to play in Finals Day.”

And should Derbyshire younger players need even more experienced advice tomorrow afternoon, the squad also includes Ravi Rampaul, whom Godleman rates as one of the best bowlers in the tournament, and Darren Stevens, 43-year-old Kent loanee, who this week scored 237 and took seven wickets in that side’s 433-run thrashing of Yorkshire.

“Stevo’s on fire,” said Godleman. “Every time he goes out there he gets either a five-fer or a double hundred. He’s another really good cricket man. He hasn’t played as much as we expected or he expected but that’s not to disregard what he’s brought off the field and the way he shares his experience with the guys. That’s been a massive boost for us.”

So we are all set up for another Finals Day. Everyone is wondering whether Worcestershire can win back-to-back trophies; or whether Nottinghamshire can rescue their season; or whether Essex can win the first of what may be two pots in a week. Of course Derbyshire can’t do it. No chance.

“Please keep taking like that,” Billy Godleman might reply.



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Singapore captain Mahboob explains how they beat top-ranked Scotland

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With 19 runs to get off two overs and a well-set Calum MacLeod at the crease, all signs pointed to Scotland holding their nerve and avoiding slipping on a first-day banana skin at the T20 World Cup Qualifier. But Singapore captain Amjad Mahboob had other plans and got a little help from his friends to spark the tournament’s first upset on Friday at the ICC Academy.

“Before the second-last over, we had 19 to defend,” Mahboob said after the two-run win over Scotland. “I told [Janak Prakash] if you give me eight to ten runs, I am definitely going to win the match for Singapore. I had self-belief, confidence in me that I could do it and God helped me, and I did it.”

While Mahboob got most of the limelight for defending eight off the final over, Prakash’s role in the denouement was no less significant. The 19-year-old allrounder had scored a vital 20 off 11 balls at No. 6 to bolster Singapore late in the first innings. On the first ball of his second over, Kyle Coetzer‘s straight drive pinged Prakash just over the right eye, splitting open a sizable gash as blood poured onto the ground and physios from both teams ran out to assist.

But Prakash was able to get to his feet with a towel pressed against his head and walked off on his own power. It looked like he might not take any further part in the match, yet he was back on the field just 17 balls later with his head stitched up and wrapped in bandaging. Then he bravely came back into the attack and conceded 11 off the 19th. It set the stage for Mahboob to deny Scotland by claiming MacLeod and Safyaan Sharif to brilliant catches at deep midwicket by Tim David before a last-ball run out ended the match.

“I was very confident because this ground is not easy to hit boundaries,” Mahboob said. “So I just bowled in the right areas. The first three balls I bowled with variations and that helped me. The last ball, I knew only if they hit a six, they could win. I bowled the leg-stump yorker and the result was in our favour.”

“When the batsman hit the ball, some of the boys had started celebrating already. I was shouting at my keeper to throw the ball to me, the batsmen are still running. The fielder threw the ball again to the keeper end. Aritra [Dutta] was there and he took off the bails and the result was ours. It’s a great feeling. Beating Scotland is not an easy thing. We know they are one of the strongest teams and we are very happy. We want to carry on with the same momentum in the tournament.”

David’s placement at deep midwicket was not the original plan either. It took some prodding from Manpreet Singh behind the stumps to reposition David on the boundary into the area where Manpreet felt Scotland were most likely to target.

“I think he is an all-round package,” Mahboob said of David, who only made 1 but was instrumental in the field with four catches and a runout. “If he never clicks with the bat, he can do well in the bowling and the fielding. Thanks to my keeper, he asked me to put Tim David on the leg side. I listened to him and I think that helped me.”

On the flip side, Scotland’s fielding cost them badly as several missed stumpings and a drop on the boundary resulted in bonus runs for Singapore. Coetzer said his side needs to be more clinical when opportunities in the field present themselves.

“I guess it’s about being a little bit more ruthless in terms of taking our opportunities,” Coetzer said after his side’s loss. “In T20 cricket, it’s fine margins sometimes. I think both sides missed opportunities at key times in the game. We missed a couple in the first half, which possibly could have put them on the back foot, with three-four wickets down. But that’s how the game goes. We seemed to have it under control towards the end. As we all know, there is no team you can underestimate in this tournament and Singapore are a very good side. In the end, they deserved their win.”



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Recent Match Report – United Arab Emirates vs Oman, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier, 4th Match, Group B

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Oman 109 for 3 (llyas 45*) beat UAE 108 for 9 (Butt 3-16, Khan 3-23) by seven wickets

The absence of three banned players in the wake of an ICC ACU investigation into match-fixing left UAE badly exposed on the opening night of the T20 World Cup Qualifier on home soil as Oman ran roughshod over the depleted hosts, storming to victory by seven wickets.

Oman demonstrated early that they would show little mercy to their shorthanded gulf rivals with some superb fielding leading to three wickets in the Powerplay. The sequence included a direct hit from mid-on by Khurram Nawaz but was highlighted by a brilliant diving catch from Aqib Ilyas at backward point off the fifth ball of the match to dismiss Ashfaq Ahmed and give Bilal Khan the first of his three wickets.

The normally fluent Rameez Shahzad and Rohan Mustafa struggled to pace their innings in the middle overs without the suspended Shaiman Anwar as a buffer, each scoring below a run a ball before they fell after the halfway stage. Shahzad was bowled missing a slog sweep to Khawar Ali’s legspin before Mustafa lofted Khan to Aamir Kaleem at long-on.

UAE wheezed their way past 100 before stuttering badly in the final two overs as Khan and Fayyaz Butt excelled at the death. Butt took three wickets in four balls in the 19th with clever use of the slower bouncer. Khan then had Junaid Siddique caught behind in the final over on what may have been a far more contentious decision – replays indicated it was a bump ball but third umpire referrals are not in place for this tournament – had the scoreline been remotely tighter.

The chase became even more comfortable for Oman thanks to some very sloppy fielding by UAE, in contrast to the visitors. Medium pacer Siddique bounced out Khawar for a five-ball duck to start the reply and should have had Jatinder Singh at deep square leg for 2 in the third over, but Waheed Ahmed put down a diving effort coming in from the rope and Jatinder went on to make 16, not much but enough in a low-scoring match.

A much clumsier effort was put down by Ashfaq Ahmed at slip in the 9th over. Kaleem was fresh at the crease after Jatinder’s run out by Waheed from deep cover and captain Ahmed Raza supported Mustafa’s offspin with a slip in the form of Ashfaq. But he still had his hands on his knees when Kaleem, on 2, edged one that went in between his legs at knee height and carried on for a boundary.

Kaleem made 27 off 19 before he slogged to long-on in the 14th off Raza but by that stage Oman needed just 28 off 39 balls to reach the target. An uncharacteristically sedate Ilyas patiently knocked singles and twos in tandem with captain Zeeshan Maqsood in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand to get Oman across the line with 10 balls to spare as Maqsood ended the match pulling a six off Siddique over square leg.





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‘I want to put things right’ – Nottinghamshire head coach Peter Moores

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A desire to ‘put things right’ will drive Peter Moores when he embarks on a fresh two-year contract as Nottinghamshire’s head coach next season.

Moores, who took Notts to the semi-finals of the Royal London One Day Cup and the Vitality Blast, acknowledged that the summer of 2019 had been one of his most difficult after the club were relegated to Division Two of the Championship, having barely scraped together half the points total of seventh-placed Warwickshire in the eight-team first division.

“I want to put things right,” said Moores. “We’re in a tough place at the moment, but I’m passionate about this club and I want to see us through this next period.

“We played some very good white-ball cricket in 2019 and we’re determined to remain one of the country’s most consistent forces in those formats. But it hurts me every day that we’ve been nowhere near the required standard with our red-ball cricket.

“We have to accept that the Second Division is the place we deserve to be based on the way we’ve played. We’ve now got to work harder than ever and fight to get back to where we want to be.”

Also read: From Duncan Fletcher to Trevor Bayliss: how Chris Silverwood’s predecessors shaped up

Nottinghamshire failed to win any of their 14 Championship matches, amassing 10 defeats and four draws for their 67 points, compared to Warwickshire’s three wins, six losses and five draws for 131 points.

The Outlaws lost their Blast semi-final to Worcestershire Rapids in extraordinary circumstances. Needing 11 to win with eight wickets in hand, Notts lost three batsmen in the penultimate over and, with only six runs required off the final over, they managed just five. Notts were also thumped by 115 runs in the Royal London Cup semi-finals by Somerset, who set them a lofty target of 338 runs to win.

Moores, who coached England from 2007-09 and 2014-15, joined Nottinghamshire in 2015 as a consultant before taking on the new head coach role at the end of the following year. He won the white-ball double with the Outlaws in 2017 as well as promotion to Division One of the County Championship.

His tenure with Notts has coincided with a transitional period in which Michael Lumb, Chris Read and Brendan Taylor headed a list of experienced player departures, while Alex Hales and Harry Gurney opted to sign white-ball only deals.

Nottinghamshire Director of Cricket Mick Newell described Moores as one of the most dedicated and respected coaches in the game.

“He’s committed to Notts and he’s valued very highly by our players,” Newell said. “This year has been tough for everyone involved with the club. However, we all believe the squad we have assembled has the talent and potential to get us back to where we need to be.”



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