ALEX LEES enhanced a remarkable record in matches against Derbyshire as Yorkshire tightened their grip on a NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals place with a thumping 59-run victory at Chesterfield.
The Vikings number three posted an unbeaten 67 not out in his side’s imposing 183-4 after being invited to bat first, hitting four fours and three sixes in his 44-ball innings.
He was helped out by 41 for Kane Williamson, 34 from captain Andrew Gale and a late 16 not out from just five balls from Tim Bresnan in front of a 4,100 strong crowd at the Queen’s Park ground.
Yorkshire then secured their sixth win in 12 North Division matches by skittling the Falcons for 124 inside 18 overs of their reply, moving to second place in the table in the process with two to play.
A win over Birmingham Bears at Headingley on Friday will secure a last eight place.
Off-spinner Azeem Rafiq claimed a career best 3-26 from his four overs, while wicketkeeper Gareth Cross top-scored for the hosts with 37 off 19 balls.
Nine Derbyshire wickets fell to spin as Williamson, Adil Rashid and Adam Lyth all struck twice.
Lees has now scored 403 runs in three innings against Derbyshire without being dismissed. That run includes 275 not out on this ground in the Championship last year and 61 unbeaten in the T20 match at Headingley in May.
Williamson hit seven fours in his first 12 balls and Lees three sixes in his first six as the visitors reached 79-2 after nine overs.
They then only scored 36 from the next six before Lees, Gale and Bresnan helped take 68 off the last five overs, advancing the score from 115-3 after 15. Gale, back in the side after being dropped at Durham on Friday, batted at five and hit four fours and a six in 20 balls.
Aaron Finch continued his recent poor form in T20 cricket by falling for ten, caught at cover off a leading edge against Mark Turner.
Derbyshire’s task was made even tougher when Williamson bowled Wes Durston with the second ball of their reply.
Cross then hit the first 33 runs of the innings, including three fours and two sixes, before falling when he slog swept Rich Pyrah’s third ball to deep mid-wicket, leaving the score at 46-2 in the fifth.
Rafiq struck twice in his first two overs, the eighth and tenth of the innings, to get rid of Wayne Madsen and Billy Godleman as the hosts slipped to 67-4 at halfway, needing another 117.
Five Yorkshire bowlers struck in their first overs, including Williamson, Pyrah, Rafiq, Rashid, who had Marcus North caught and bowled in the eleventh in the midst of a collapse of six for 32 as Derbyshire fell to 78-7 in the 13th, and later Lyth.
They managed to get above 100 thanks to some late hitting from Tom Knight and David Wainwright, but it was of little consolation.