Falcons on the up
Derbyshire hinted that they could become a force in the Clydesdale Bank 40 after registering a third successive Group A victory with eight balls to spare against Worcestershire at New Road.
After winning only nine games in 40-over competitions over the last five seasons, the Falcons are already looking a revitalised team under new captain Luke Sutton.
Rebounding from an opening defeat by the Netherlands, they have since defended and chased totals with equal success.
Worcestershire were never able to create a platform, batting first after losing the toss. Tim Groenewald took 4-22 in their 171 all out with 11 balls unused and left-handed opening pair Chesney Hughes and Usman Khawaja put on 84, setting up Derbyshire’s six-wicket success.
Khawaja, who made his debut for Australia in the final Test of the Ashes in January, completed his first half-century in county cricket off 76 balls and went on to see his side home with an unbeaten 89.
A well-judged innings included 10 fours, as well as a six over the New Road stand, but, with one run needed, Wayne Madsen was leg before to Gareth Andrew for 21 after a partnership of 56.
Derbyshire initially took control when Groenewald’s opening spell of 2-8 in five overs saw off two of Worcestershire’s major stroke players. Moeen Ali tamely drove to cover and Alexei Kervezee was trapped in front after hitting a couple of fours.
James Cameron led a recovery with a competition-best 69 from 80 balls but Derbyshire’s spinners kept the scoring rate under control.
Zimbabwe-born left-hander Cameron was responsible for nine of the 16 boundaries in the innings and it was a six, clubbed over long-on, that took him past his previous highest score of 58 against the Unicorns last summer.
Daryl Mitchell and Neil Pinner, who made 29 and 26 respectively, featured in the only significant partnerships as Hughes and on-loan Yorkshire off-spinner Azeem Rafiq shared three wickets while conceding only 58 runs in 16 overs.
Cameron’s robust innings ended with a serious misjudgement, which led to the last three wickets falling in five balls without addition. Chancing a second run to Greg Smith at deep point, he was run out by some distance.
Hughes set the pace in Derbyshire’s run-chase, hoisting a six over square-leg in Andrew’s second over, and he went on make 42 before he was leg before to Mitchell’s first delivery.
The captain’s wicket-taking boost for Worcestershire quickly turned to disappointment when he was forced to go off with a side strain after pulling up in pain as he bowled the fifth ball of his third over.