Northants beaten at Derby despite Cobb century

CENTURY TO NO AVAIL - Northants batsman Josh Cobb
CENTURY TO NO AVAIL - Northants batsman Josh Cobb
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Josh Cobb hit his first century in Northamptonshire colours but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Steelbacks falling to a third defeat in four Royal London One Day Cup matches, going down by seven wickets against Derbyshire.

Cobb hit 104, his sixth one-day century, but Northants were bowled out for 231 from the final ball of the innings, Richard Levi the second highest scorer with 26 as the middle order failed to fire once more.

The total would prove inadequate as Billy Godleman’s unbeaten century ensured the visitors were always in control, sealing victory with 10 balls to spare, leaving Northants with only one win at the halfway point of the group stage.

It was Northants’ inability to kick on form a promising position that once again cost them, having reached 143 for two with 20 overs remaining, but six wickets fell for 52 runs as Cobb could only stand and watch as partners came and went, before he was eventually bowled from the penultimate ball of the innings.

Levi hit four fours as together the openers put on 50, but the introduction of spinner Matt Critchley saw Levi attempt to slog sweep his second ball and top edging to point.

Rob Keogh was bowled by Shiv Thakor for 15, but the in-form Ben Duckett joined Cobb in setting the platform for the Steelbacks innings with a stand of 68 as Cobb completed his second consecutive half century.

With Cobb having hit both Ben Cotton and Critchley for straight sixes, a third followed off Alex Hughes, but his fourth four, pulled off Critchley in the 29th over would prove to be his last as he was forced into the holding role when wickets fell around him after Duckett had chipped Mark Footitt to deep midwicket to depart for 25.

Captain David Willey managed only a single from his 15 balls before driving Footitt to mid-off, and teenager Saif Zaib made 11 before slapping a Hughes full toss straight to mid-on.

Critchley took three wickets in five balls at the young spinner finished with four for 48, Crook caught on the cover boundary, Rory Kleinveldt trapped LBW before Graeme White hit his first ball to cover to leave Northants 195 for eight.

Olly Stone helped ensure the 50 overs were batted out, finishing unbeaten on 24, while Cobb was content to reach his century in singles, the milestone coming in the penultimate before both he and Mohammed Azharullah fell to end the Northants innings.

Stone’s three wickets in three overs had been key to the Steelbacks’ victory over Leicestershire defending a similar total, but no early burst was forthcoming as Godleman and Wes Durston took the hosts to 68 without loss with little trouble.

Just as in the Northants innings it was the introduction of spin that brought the breakthrough, although it took White three overs to have Durston LBW for 37.

White and Willey both bowled restricting spells, but with Godleman anchoring the innings they were unable to take the wickets that would have created pressure, Godleman then clubbing two sixes from White’s final over after reaching 50 in 95 balls.

While the batsmen were in cruise control, tempers threatened to get heated, Godleman in one particular confrontation with Kleinveldt, while when the chance came Willey couldn’t grasp it, as a Madsen drive flew straight threw his hands at cover.

The second wicket pair had added 104 and by the time Willey made amends for his drop by trapping Madsen LBW, the ball after Madsen had reached his own half century with a six, the target was down to 60 from 11 overs.

Matt Critchley was promoted from nine to four in an attempt to win the game in a hurry, but he only made nine before being brilliant caught by Stone, running back from mid-wicket off Willey, and Northants’ hopes were still alive with 36 required at a run a ball.

They needed to find a breakthrough, and in particular remove Godleman, but they couldn’t get it, the left hander bringing up his maiden one-day century, with Chesney Hughes unbeaten on 16 ensuring they crossed the line with plenty to spare.