Derbyshire 211-5 (Reece 97 not, Smit 42 not)
Lancashire 176-9 (Livingstone 44, Brown 41, Henry 3-37, Critchley 2-16)
Derbyshire won by 35 runs
On an evening that marked the halfway point of the T20 competition, Derbyshire won a game of marvelous entertainment by some distance in the end, although there were times when the result seemed less certain.
When Liam Livingstone took 26 from the first over of Matt Henry, I could imagine a few people reaching for their phones to make blog comments, on a player who has not yet impressed in Derbyshire colours. However, to his great credit he came back and his next three overs produced just eleven runs and three wickets. It was a test of his character and one that he passed with flying colours.
That Lancashire didn't mount the successful chase that looked likely at the halfway point was down to two other unlikely heroes. Matt Critchley has bowled little this year, but his dismissal of Karl Brown and Joss Buttler swung the game our way. The former was going well and we got the latter before he got into his stride, always important.
After that, the decline came fast and the runs dried up, as the recalled Ben Cotton bowled a great spell of four overs, costing just 28 runs. Big Ben is, for me, a solid performer in this format of the game and returned to the form that he showed over the past couple of seasons, crucially giving us an extra, dependable bowler. I suspect that he will now be in to stay, because quite simply he deserves to be in the side after such an effort.
It was encouraging to see Hardus Viljoen return to form too, after my criticism of both he and Henry at the weekend. You need your star men to take the lead and they both put in a good stint tonight. Meanwhile, although Imran Tahir went for a few boundaries, he too pulled it back and I am sure that a healthy crowd enjoyed his wicket and typical celebration.
Earlier, Derbyshire got off to a flyer and stayed at a steady rate, largely thanks to Luis Reece, who will have enjoyed his innings against his old team. He deserved a century, but although he kept getting on to the strike, he couldn't quite reach the landmark. Nonetheless, that was a terrific effort from the left hander.
At 134-5 in the fourteenth over, we could quite easily have subsided to 175 or thereabouts, much as we did at Edgbaston. To add 77 in those closing overs was a terrific effort and full credit is also due to Daryn Smit for his crucial role.
Belying a suggestion that he scores too slowly for the format, Smit's unbeaten 42 from just 20 deliveries took the pressure from Reece and heaped it on to the visitors, as we passed 200 with an over to spare. It also, for me, made more sense for him to come in with overs to bat, than the more aggressive but less dependable Henry. Twice now he has played crucial, late hands for us in this competition; each time that innings was the difference at the end of the game.
It was stirring stuff and must have been special for a large crowd on a balmy summer's evening. The club's coffers must have swelled nicely, just like our prospects in the competition.
Now for Friday night.
Let's go again, boys...
Now, I look forward to your comments!