Northamptonshire 179-6 (Duckett 69, Viljoen 3-28)
Derbyshire 180-3 (Reece 75 not, Madsen 37, Wilson 28 not)
Derbyshire won by seven wickets
If John Wright and Gary Wilson had sat down and scripted tonight's game, they could scarcely have done it better.
Playing the champions, a team adept at chasing, you want to win the toss and get them to set one. We did that, then bowled sensibly and well. The tactic of Wayne Madsen taking an end in the Power play was effective and the early wicket was handy.
I'm not too bothered about Matt Henry going for ten an over, because, as Nasser Hussain said in the recent series between England and South Africa, it is now the standard for a bowler turning his arm at either end of the innings. He got the key wicket of Ben Duckett and the early run out of Rossington so played his part.
The middle overs were handled well by Imran Tahir, with Alex Hughes and Matt Critchley in support, but the stand out bowler of the night was Hardus Viljoen. Splitting his overs throughout the innings, Viljoen showed what we have missed all summer with a quality display of fast bowling. The wickets of Cobb and Wakeley in successive balls slowed the home advance and a final target of 180 seemed at least possible.
Of course, we have chased such totals many times and failed, but tonight was handled with an elan and calm that has not always been the Derbyshire way. We were never far behind the rate, although I remain to be convinced about the opening pairing. Tonight it didn't matter, because after Billy Godleman's cameo at the start, Luis Reece marshaled the rest of the innings with great skill, making an unbeaten 75 from 51 deliveries.
It was no real surprise, because regular readers will recall my reporting on his ability when he was signed. An innings against us last year, where he outscored Alviro Petersen, confirmed a talent to me and it was realised again tonight. If one of your top three bats through the innings, the likelihood is that you will win a fair number of these games and Luis played a blinder to ensure that we did.
The partnership of Reece and Wayne Madsen swung the game our way, 64 runs in just over six overs, but when the latter was dismissed, we still needed 47 from just over five overs.
We got them in 26 balls, with the skipper coming in and bludgeoning an unbeaten 28 from just fifteen deliveries. Doing exactly what you want your experienced men to do, in fact, when the game gets down to the nitty gritty. With plenty of batting in hand, the win was completed in style.
Credit all round, not forgetting Dominic Cork, who has been working with the bowlers in the lead up to this competition. If one was to be critical, there were too many dot balls at the start of our innings and we cannot afford that if chasing nearer 200. However, the bowling was steady and controlled, with only nine extras conceded and we are away to a fine start.
One swallow doesn't make a summer, of course and we can only hope that Viljoen, a key component of the attack, has come through the game unscathed. If we can keep this eleven on the pitch there will be more wins, but Yorkshire tomorrow will be a tough task, especially after they hammered Nottinghamshire tonight.
We'll see though. There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful this evening and the skipper and his side will enjoy the journey home.
Well done lads.
Now see if we can sustain that against the Yorkies.