AFTER a frustrating and, ultimately, disappointing visit, it is fair to say Chesterfield is unlikely to be very high on the list of favourite venues for Yorkshire right now.
Three blank days of Championship cricket were bad enough, not least because the White Rose county had been in the ascendancy in the top-of-the-table clash before the rain intervened with Division Two leaders Derbyshire firmly on the back foot.
But yesterday that sense of frustration was replaced by one of dejection as Carnegie’s hopes of progressing in the Clydesdale Bank 40 were dealt a blow by a resounding three-wicket defeat.
Worse still, Yorkshire, after reducing their hosts to 56-4 when chasing 239 to win, had at one stage seemed by far the more likely of the two sides to prevail.
That they didn’t was down to a combination of spurned chances in the field and some impressive strokeplay from Derbyshire to thrill a crowd of what was a little over 2,600.
Richard Johnson, who only joined the Falcons on loan from Warwickshire a little over a week ago, was the hero thanks to a quick-fire 79 from 74 deliveries that included two sixes and six boundaries.
From a Yorkshire perspective, however, the 23-year-old wicket-keeper’s winning role was made all the more galling by him having been dropped three times.
Azeem Rafiq was the guilty party on the first two occasions, putting down sharp chances off the bowling of Mitchell Starc and Iain Wardlaw in consecutive overs when Johnson was on just one and eight respectively.
A third reprieve came when Richard Pyrah was unable to take a difficult opportunity at full stretch when Johnson, then on 48, spooned an Adil Rashid delivery towards cover.
Had any of those chances, and particularly the first two by Rafiq, been taken then chances are the game could have had a very different outcome.
Instead, Johnson claimed his maiden half century in one-day cricket to leave Yorkshire, even at the halfway stage, playing catch-up in the CB40.
Captain Andrew Gale said: “I thought we were probably 20 runs short.
“We lost wickets at vital stages through our innings, just when we were getting a partnership.
“We didn’t have that one partnership of 80, 90, 100 plus. Having said that, when we had them four down we were still in the game but were not as clinical as we would have liked.
“From a bowling point of view, we didn’t quite hit our lengths and also gave away too many extras.
“But, fair to play to Derbyshire, I thought Johnson played well.”
A late flurry of hitting by Richard Pyrah and Gary Ballance had initially given Yorkshire hope along with a half-century for Gale on his return from injury after more than a month out.
The White Rose captain had not featured since injuring his hip ahead of the Twenty20 Cup trip to Durham, but in the Chesterfield sunshine he showed little sign of rustiness.
He reached 50 by smashing Wes Durston to the mid-wicket boundary and looked set for a big innings only to perish in bizarre circumstances just a couple of deliveries later.
After working a flighted ball from the off spinner towards square leg, Gale set off for a quick single only to be called back when the Derbyshire bowlers pointed to one of the bails being dislodged.
With wicketkeeper Johnson insisting the Yorkshire captain was responsible, he had little alternative but to trudge off disconsolately having hit 51 from 65 balls.
“I didn’t think I’d hit the wicket but looking back on the replay, I did,” said a disappointed Yorkshire captain
“The umpire wasn’t sure, that is what I was disappointed with as if he isn’t sure then I am not sure how he can give me out.
“I eventually said, ‘Are you giving me out or not? He said he was so I had to go off.
“I was just disappointed with the uncertainty of it.”
Gale’s dismissal proved to be a blow from which the visitors failed to recover, with even the late scoring burst by Pyrah and Ballance not being enough to post a total truly capable of testing Derbyshire.
Credit, though, is due to the pair for putting on 56 runs in a little under seven overs before Ballance fired a Tim Groenewald full toss straight at Wayne Madsen.
The safe hands of the Falcons captain also accounted for Pyrah in the final over but by then the all-rounder had smashed a quick-fire 44 from just 28 deliveries to give Yorkshire their joint highest total of the season in 40 overs cricket.
However, as with the 238 that Sussex coasted past at Hove in May, Derbyshire made light work of the chase – even after suffering a rocky start as Starc managed to nip the ball back sharply to bowl both Chesney Hughes and Dan Redfern while Wardlaw dismissed Usman Khawaja and Wes Durston.
Had Rafiq then held on to either of his two opportunities to send Johnson back to the Pavilion, Yorkshire may well have prevailed but instead the loanee made the visitors pay with some lusty hitting.
Supported, first, by captain Madsen and then Alex Hughes, Johnson kept the Falcons comfortably ahead in the run chase and despite Wardlaw eventually getting his man there was no preventing the Tykes’ trip to Chesterfield ultimately ending in disappointment.
n Yesterday’s game was preceded by a minute’s silence for former England and Yorkshire left arm spin bowler, Don Wilson, who died on Saturday in a York hospital.
He played 422 first-class matches for Yorkshire and took 1,189 wickets at an average of 21. Flags on the pavilion were also flown at half mast in tribute.