All Whiteley for Derbyshire
Birthday boy Ross Whiteley’s all-round skills kept Derbyshire, who were promoted when Glamorgan beat Kent, in the hunt for victory over Hampshire at the County Ground that will see the hosts go up as LV= County Championship Division Two winners.
Whiteley, who was half his age when Derbyshire last played in the top flight in 2000, first struck an unbeaten fifty and then took the last two wickets as the visitors reached 142 for five in their second innings for a lead of 139.
With two sessions lost to rain yesterday, the left-handed Derbyshire Academy graduate advanced from five of an overnight 167 for five to 57 not out of 275.
Hampshire lost both opening batsmen with 16 on the board but had recovered to 126 for four when the left-arm seamer trapped Sean Ervine lbw. He soon had Michael Bates caught behind en route to fine figures of 5-2-6-2.
Nineteen minutes after the close in Derby, Glamorgan reached a target of 61 with seven wickets to spare at the SWALEC Stadium. That sparked modest celebrations in the Derbyshire dressing room where the players knew they will likely have to win tomorrow to pip Yorkshire, who were well-placed versus Essex at Chelmsford, to the title.
At the start of Hampshire’s second innings Derbyshire’s former Essex bowler Tony Palladino had a close lbw shout against Michael Carberry, who had not scored, turned down. However, following a period of pressure, the seamer had Carberry caught behind via a faint outside edge and, in the next, Tim Groenewald had Jimmy Adams caught down leg.
Liam Dawson clipped and pulled Groenewald to leg for four in an over to briefly break Derbyshire’s stranglehold, but fell via a thin edge off Mark Turner.
First-innings centurion James Vince got going with a sumptuous drive off Turner and immediately edged another four. Although David Wainwright kept it tight from one end, Vince took Turner for two off-side boundaries in the over prior to tea.
With the floodlights on afterwards, Vince cut Groenewald for a one-bounce four but next over was caught and bowled for 26 by Wainwright when the batsman advanced and checked his shot.
Ervine stroked Wainwright over the midwicket rope and, with spin on at both ends, the patiently-accumulating Bilal Shafayat pulled a Wes Durston long-hop for four.
Ervine and Shafayat had added 45 when Whiteley removed the former with a ball that would have hit leg stump and he soon found Bates’ outside edge.
Shafayat brought up a half-century from 142 balls shortly before stumps and is set to resume on 52 alongside Chris Wood.
Under bright morning skies Derbyshire had suffered an early setback when Usman Khawaja, on his overnight 71, drove loosely at Ervine and wicketkeeper Bates held a diving catch in front of first slip.
Bates could not hold another tough chance when Wainwright, on six, attempted to hook Ervine after Whiteley had elegantly driven the seamer to the extra-cover rope.
Wainwright profited only by one run, though, edging James Tomlinson low to Adams at first slip amid a spell of ball beating bat.
Whiteley cover-drove Tomlinson to the boundary and Tom Poynton got going with four down the ground off Ervine in the same over a Whiteley single brought a first batting point.
David Balcombe’s bouncer painfully hit Whiteley on the right glove but the bowler was soon on the receiving end of two Poynton fours, clipped to leg.
Whiteley hurried towards his fifty, straight-driving Wood for four before launching Dawson over midwicket for six and twice sweeping the spinner to the boundary.
Poynton then clipped Wood to deep midwicket for the crucial run that earned a second batting point and ensured Derbyshire will take the title with a win.
Adams gave occasional spinner Carberry the over before lunch and held a catch at leg-slip to remove Poynton for 24. Carberry should have had another from the last ball, after the interval, but Ervine shelled Whiteley on 55 at slip.
Tomlinson immediately replaced Carberry and was twice consecutively hit for four by Groenewald, who departed when his attempt to play through midwicket fell into the hands of extra-cover.
Turner drove Balcombe through mid-on for four to put the hosts ahead, but was caught behind later in the over to end the innings. Division Two’s leading wicket-taker now has 59 scalps.