Head coach David Ripley said that it had been a game of fine margins between Northamptonshire and Derbyshire at the County Ground.
Harvey Hosein’s gusty 50 clawed Derbyshire to a thrilling one-wicket victory over Northamptonshire on an afternoon that ebbed and flowed at Wantage Road.
Set 233 to win, Derbyshire were in control at 94-1. Northamptonshire replied by taking four wickets for 24 runs in nine overs after lunch, before Hosein reduced the target to 37 with the support of Alex Hughes and Anuj Dal
But Luke Procter conjured up two wickets in two overs and when Nathan Buck cleaned up number 10 Tony Palladino, Derbyshire needed nine with only one wicket in hand. Hosein dived across the off stump to paddle-sweep Ben Sanderson for four and worked singles to bring the target to within one boundary.
Buck had one delivery at final man Ravi Rampaul, who touched him off his hip to fine leg for four to seal a memorable victory with Hosein the hero, unbeaten on 54.
“At the end of the third day we were very disappointed,” Ripley told BBC Radio Northampton. “We battled through the new ball and set up a great position but we couldn’t jump on that and we really should have batted Derby out of the game and ensured a second new ball was in play in the chase.
“But I’m really proud of the effort the bowlers put in trying to defend the score, the fielders also worked hard and on another day we might have snuck over the line. But it’s been that kind of year.
“Ben Sanderson and Brett Hutton were phenomenal for us, they kept running in. Two-and-a half an over was all we let them score at and it was a very fine innings from Harvey to beat us.”
The day began in brilliant sunshine and a perfect start for the visitors as Palladino had Buck well caught by Gary Wilson at slip to the fourth ball of the day before he bowled Sanderson second ball to dismiss Northants for 199 adding only one run to their overnight total, leaving Derbyshire 233 to win in 93 overs.
Northamptonshire had a superb start to the chase, Sanderson bowling Billy Godleman with his second ball, but Tom Lace and Wayne Madsen managed to get through the rest of the session where a wicket looked likely every ball.
But having survived countless plays and misses and a huge appeal each for LBW, the pair steered Derbyshire into a commanding position after lunch.
Northamptonshire broke through as Hutton took out Lace’s off stump after a stand of 94 in 37.2 overs and it prompted a collapse that left 111 needed with five wickets in hand and suddenly the home side were favourites.
Sanderson was a big part of the turnaround, sending down 13 overs unchanged from the Wantage Road End after lunch, bowling three maidens and taking 2-21 – eventually trapping Madsen LBW for 62 and getting one to bounce on Matt Critchley where a glove was well held down low by Ricardo Vasconcelos at third slip. Gary Wilson also ran himself out, sent back trying to take a single to mid-on that was never available.
Enter Hosein, who with Hughes shared 36 to ease the tension before the latter was caught well by Richard Levi at second slip for 28 in the second over after tea. Dal worked the target down further with Hosein but he was then brilliantly yorked by Procter who pinned Hardus Viljoen LBW in his next over.
Palladino helped narrow the target into single figures but it took Rampaul, who survived one more play and miss against Sanderson, to flick the winning runs.