SUMMER, what summer?
It seemed to have skipped the arboreal setting of Chesterfield’s Queen’s Park, which shivered in 40mph winds as its banks of trees bent low like old men.
Spectators watched beneath multi-coloured umbrellas, with rain delaying the start of the match by 35 minutes and returning at various stages to pound the parched earth, and all manner of coats and cagoules were in colourful evidence.
Even the hottest summer since 1976 – and perhaps since records started – cannot turn on the heat every day, much like cricketers prone to fluctuations of form.
After battering Birmingham Bears the previous day, and showing all the qualities of potential champions, Yorkshire’s players proved that they are as prone to such fluctuations as anyone else as they suffered a surprise five-wicket defeat to Derbyshire with one ball to spare.
After winning the toss, the visitors scored 166-8 from their 20 overs, England all-rounder David Willey top-scoring with 55 from 44 balls with eight fours and a six, and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson contributing 35 from 22 with four fours and a maximum, West Indian fast bowler Ravi Rampaul capturing 4-19.
It felt like Yorkshire had the game in the bag pretty much right up to the point where they did not, the hosts improbably finding the 61 runs they required off the last five overs, including 19 off the final over bowled by Tim Bresnan.
Matt Critchley, the 21-year-old all-rounder, struck the former England all-rounder for 2, 6, 4, 6 and 4 off the first five balls, the fours going straight and the sixes to leg, ending on 38 not out from 17 balls, while Billy Godleman top-scored with a career-best, unbeaten 71 from 57 to break Yorkshire’s hearts.
Although the players and spectators arrived in sunny conditions, albeit to none of the furnace-like heat of recent days, a heavy shower freshened up the ground before the sides belatedly took to the field.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore drove the first ball of the game from off-spinner Wayne Madsen to the cover boundary, lofted the second for six over long-on and square-drove the third delivery to the boundary too.
But he perished to the opening ball of the second over, brilliantly caught low down at cover by Critchley off Rampaul, Yorkshire falling to 37-2 in the fifth when Adam Lyth tried to uppercut Rampaul and was caught behind.
Yorkshire were 48-2 at the end of the powerplay, but they accelerated to 91-2 at the halfway stage, Williamson providing much of the momentum.
The leafy Queen’s Park, which might have reminded the New Zealander of some of the more picturesque venues back home, seemed an appropriate setting for his classy brush strokes, which included a delicious late-cut for four off Hardus Viljoen and an off-driven six off Alex Hughes.
Williamson eventually fell pulling left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz to deep square-leg, where Anuj Dal nearly made a mess of the catch before recovering well.
Willey also began to loosen his arms, launching Rampaul for a colossal six into the banks of trees over mid-wicket on his way to a 50 reached from 37 deliveries.
Willey fell trying to find the boundary off Wahab, picking out Calum MacLeod at mid-off to leave Yorkshire 128-4 in the 15th.
Gary Ballance chipped in with 15 before Hughes bowled him swinging to leg, Bresnan then thumping the medium-pacer for a straight six towards the pavilion.
After Jonny Tattersall was bowled by Viljoen aiming to leg, Bresnan skied Rampaul to the wicketkeeper in the last over and Liam Plunkett was bowled trying to hit Rampaul’s next ball to the leg-side, Yorkshire managing only 33 from the last five overs.
Godleman and MacLeod added 42 for the first wicket inside five overs, Yorkshire nipping in with two quick wickets to stall their progress.
MacLeod slapped Azeem Rafiq to Willey at deep mid-wicket and Madsen was run-out following a mix-up with Godleman, leaving the hosts 42-2.
That became 60-3 when Adil Rashid, playing his last match before linking up with England’s Test squad, and possibly his last game for the club pending any Finals Day appearance and amid ongoing contract discussions, struck with his fourth delivery to pin Dal lbw.
Rafiq claimed a second wicket to have Gary Wilson stumped, and Rashid pouched his second when Viljoen swung across the line and was bowled, Rashid signing off – temporarily or otherwise – with 2-19 from four overs.
Thanks largely to their spinners, Yorkshire kept the run-rate in check, but Derbyshire continued to chip away, bringing the equation down to 27 needed off the last two.
Patterson bowled a good penultimate over, conceding only eight, before Critchley’s last-gasp assault.