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Derbyshire look for final push

Derbyshire head for Grace Road still clinging on to a slender chance of scraping through to the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 Cup.

Yesterday's wash out at Old Trafford leaves the Phantoms with only two points with three North group matches to go, beginning with a return match against Leicestershire this evening.

But whether or not eight points will be enough to see Derbyshire through to the knockout stages, director of cricket David Houghton knows it is important for the rest of his team's season that they put in a strong finish to this competition.

"I don't know if it will be enough to get us through even if we win these next three games," he said.

"All we can do is win at Leicester, then take that on to the home game against Lancashire on Thursday and on to Headingley against Yorkshire on Friday.

"For 80-90 per cent of the time, we played very well against Leicestershire last Friday and we were perhaps a little unlucky that we didn't get the win.

"But it was better and we were competitive. We needed that because our one-day form is crucifying our season.

"I know we had that dismal disappointing day against Notts, which will not happen again, but we have been playing pretty well in the Championship this season.

"But losing in the one-day competitions so often is affecting morale in the changing room and even one or two wins in the Twenty20 would give us a little kick start so that we can go to Southgate on Sunday for the Championship match against Middlesex with our confidence high."

Yesterday's game against Lancashire was called off around two hours before the scheduled start as one further heavy shower left the sodden ground even less likely to recover in time.

That denied 17-year-old wicketkeeper Tom Poynton the chance to make his first-team debut for Derbyshire, though he will have the opportunity to play through the remainder of the Twenty20 Cup campaign.

Born in Burton and part of the Derbyshire Academy, former England Under-17 player Poynton has been drafted in to allow Jamie Pipe the chance to rest a groin injury and Houghton, a former international wicketkeeper with Zimbabwe, has no doubt the youngster will rise to the occasion.

"I saw him play in the second team last week against Leicestershire and his wicketkeeping was outstanding," he added. "He can bat well too.

"Tom is the future for this club and so he will get this week to have a taste of what first-team cricket is about.

"Pipey has been struggling with a groin injury and he will be visiting a specialist this week to get a better idea of what the damage is.

"Groin injuries don't just go away until you fix them and I think he is looking at having a little op at the end of the season.

"Until then, it is a matter of managing the problem to see him through and it will help him get ready for Middlesex if he takes a rest through the remainder of the Twenty20s."

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source - thisisderbyshire.co.uk

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