Ben Sanderson took four second-innings wickets to push Northamptonshire back into contention for promotion from Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship with a 128-run win over Derbyshire at Wantage Road.
Sanderson’s 4 for 31 on day three followed up 5 for 52 in the first innings and saw Northants comfortably defend 319 for a fourth win in six matches this season.
It looked like Derbyshire were rolling over having slipped to 58 for 6 shortly after lunch but Tom Taylor made a bright half-century in a stand of 106 with Daryn Smit that avoided humiliation. It merely delayed Northants’ victory until after tea, with Derbyshire eventually bowled out for 191.
It was another remarkable day where 16 wickets fell - as they did on day one. Nine of them came in the morning session where Derbyshire’s hopes of a first victory in two years was raised, only to be dashed before lunch.
Northants resumed four down with a lead of 289 and sights on setting a target towards 400. But such ambitions were destroyed as Conor McKerr took a second five-wicket haul in the game and became the youngest bowler to take ten in a match for Derbyshire, beating FE Bracey, whose ten came back in 1907 in this very fixture at Derby.
McKerr swung a full ball into the pads of Ben Duckett to trap him lbw for just 8 and took out the leg stump of Josh Cobb who recorded a pair. And when Rory Kleinveldt was cleaned up looking for runs with only the No. 11 for company, McKerr had 10 for 141.
It completed an outrageous Northants collapse from 225 for 1 and from four overs before the close on the second evening, Northants lost 8 for 33 in 18 overs.
It meant Derbyshire were right back in the game but with still a testing 320 to chase. But 20 overs in and their were shattered.
Before lunch, they lost three cheap wickets to Sanderson. Billy Godleman miscued a pull that came off a top-edge to square leg, Jeevan Mendis was trapped lbw to an inswinger and Shiv Tahkor also fell pulling, his a full-blooded shot that was very well held by Cobb at square-leg.
After lunch, Sanderson’s fourth came when Wayne Madsen chopped into his middle stump and Gary Wilson was run out from a direct hit running to his right from point. Nathan Buck also removed Alex Hughes lbw trying to pull.
Derbyshire were in desperate need of a resistance if only to save face and Taylor counterattacked to good effect, driving Buck down the ground, Rob Keogh past extra-cover and sweeping the same bowler.
He should have gone for 28 when he was caught at deep square off a Buck no-ball but survived to go through to a second first-class fifty in 44 balls with a clip through midwicket - his ninth four.
Together with Daryn Smit - bravely resisting with an injured right hand - the pair added 106 for the seventh wicket at over five-an-over to bring to target down to 156 and make Northants sweat a little. But Taylor fell playing in the manner that had brought him his fine fifty - trying to hook Buck and getting a faint edge through to wicketkeeper Duckett.
When the same bowler had Tony Palladino held at second slip for 2 it looked as if the game would be over before tea but Smit’s resistance continued and he and McKerr got Derbyshire through to the break, only for McKerr to be bowled by Keogh two overs in the final session.
Luis Reece, 26, was unable to bat having been taken to hospital earlier in the game with an inflammation of the heart caused by a viral infection. He was discharged from Kettering General Hospital on the third morning of this game.
Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman said: “Ultimately we didn’t play good enough cricket for as long as they did and that was the reflection in the scores.
“After the first innings I would taken the score but I did think we could have bowled them out closer to 150 on day one.
“But the manner of how we’ve lost our wickets in both innings really hurts me.”