The role of the spinner in t20 cricket has become an increasingly important one and Derbyshire believe they have an emerging talent in Matt Critchley.
The 19-year-old leg-spinner has taken wickets and given Derbyshire control at vital times in a form of the game where a contest can get away in the space of a few balls, let alone overs.
Spinners have not only survived but also thrived and when Yorkshire denied Derbyshire victory in a thrilling contest at the 3aaa County Ground on Sunday, it was Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq who were the game-changers.
Critchley also played his part in pegging the Vikings back, taking 1 for 17 and reeling the batsmen back in after an explosive start in the powerplay which threatened to take the match out of Derbyshire’s reach.
His performance on Wednesday night was even more crucial with Lancashire on course for a formidable total and with a top batsmen in Alviro Petersen well set.
The South African did dispatch one ball over the long-on boundary but Critchley more than finished in credit, taking two wickets and conceding only 17 runs in his three overs.
Although Lancashire imploded spectacularly in the final overs with Jimmy Neesham claiming career-best t20 figures of 4 for 35, the New Zealander recognised the value of Critchley’s earlier spell.
“At the top of the innings we’ve been pretty poor over the whole competition, myself included, we haven’t really got our lengths right and that’s definitely something we need to work on for the rest of the tournament,” he said.
“But I was pretty proud of the way the lads , especially Matthew Critchley, pulled it back in the middle which helped us keep them to a getable total.
“Matt has been outstanding for us. If you look around the world, you’ve got guys like Shahid Afridi and Imran Tahir who are some of the best bowlers around so there’s certainly no reason why a leg-spinner can’t be extremely successful in t20 cricket.
“If I was the England selectors, I would certainly be looking in his direction.”
The six wicket victory has kept alive Derbyshire’s chances of making the last eight although they have to win their last two games and hope results elsewhere go their way.
Derbyshire’s prospects would be much brighter had games not slipped away from them and Neesham accepted: “We have discussed that.
“We have three games in the back of our minds where we haven’t quite done it and when we get in those situations again, it’s up the senior players like myself, Wayne Madsen and Hamish Rutherford to make sure we kill games.
“You can put yourself in the best position and limit poor shots and poor dismissals but there are always going to be times when you are under pressure and take the wrong option, that’s the nature of the game.”