Northants cruise past Derbyshire in Royal London Cup

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Fifties from Josh Cobb, Ben Duckett and Rob Keogh saw Northamptonshire towards a quarter-final spot in the Royal London Cup with an easy chase against Derbyshire at Wantage Road.

The pair shared an opening stand of 116 as Northants chased 273 with seven wickets in hand.

Victory takes them to nine points in the North Group and with a very healthy run-rate, it should be enough for qualification. Derbyshire now have to win their final game against Leicestershire and hope other results go in their favour.

They day began well for the visitors with Ben Slater making an unbeaten 148 - the third-highest List A score for the county and highest against first-class opposition - as they posted what appeared a competitive 272 for 7 but Northants made very light work of the chase, winning with eight overs to spare.

Cobb and Duckett broke the back of the chase with Northants’ best opening partnership in the competition this season of 116. Cobb was able to find boundaries at will and he cleared his front leg to swing his first six over long-on. Another followed as Jimmy Neesham returned to the attack. In between, Cobb slog-swept Matt Critchley only just over the head of deep midwicket.

A century seemed to be waiting for Cobb but he fell for 88 in 91 balls in a bizarre dismissal when his bat - slipping from his grasp - flew further than the ball.

A hundred was also at Duckett’s mercy as he continued a truly remarkable run of form. He survived a sharp caught and bowled chance to Shiv Thakor on 26 before slapping the next ball over mid-on for four, driving another past extra-cover and finally carving over the covers for his second six - the first came with a straight drive off Ben Cotton. A duck-scoop off Thakor and another drive through extra-cover brought a fine fifty in 43 balls. But was yorked by Alex Hughes for 70 in 56 balls - his fourth score over 50 in six innings in this season’s competition.

Duckett, Cobb, and an unbeaten 63 from Rob Keogh consigned Slater’s impressive 148 not out to a losing cause. With a hundred against Durham earlier in the competition, he arrived in form and looked very assured. After moving past fifty in 73 balls, he accelerated well. He used Azharullah’s sixth over to provide some middle-innings impetus with three fours flicked over the leg side.

Slater survived another flick that nearly carried to long leg diving forward but was otherwise chanceless in going to a hundred in 120 balls with 10 fours and a six.

His only trouble came playing the left-arm spin of Graeme White, who again provided excellent control and threatened with the help of some turn on a used wicket. He produced the opening breakthrough after a first wicket stand of 69 when Billy Godleman reverse-swept to backward point.

White’s second wicket came to end the second-wicket stand of 96 after Slater and Wayne Madsen had Derbyshire nicely poised at 165 for 1 in the 33rd over. Madsen miscued a drive to point for 39. White took 2 for 32 from his 10 overs.

But it was the return of Richard Gleeson that prompted Derbyshire’s slide from 204 for 2 to 209 for 5. He cleaned-bowled Neil Broom, Shiv Thakor, trapped Jimmy Neesham lbw and then also bowled Wes Durston to finish with 4 for 66. But he leaked 15 from his final over as Derbyshire posted a competitive score. It proved not.