A cloudy, but warm day; a reasonable sized crowd; a visit from the champions and a must-win match for the hosts: if the Falcons had nerves, they were long gone by the time Hamish Rutherford and Wes Durston picked up their bats. An excellent final over by Jimmy Neesham left the hosts needing just 168 to win, and a powerful Derbyshire top order saw it through with eight balls to spare.
Winning the toss, Durston followed his recent wet-weather form and put the Lightning in to bat first.
As is usual for the champions, Alviro Petersen started piling on the runs fast and he and Luis Reece reached 68 together before Matt Critchley had Reece lbw in the seventh over. He removed Karl Brown the same way two overs later for just 4.
Three figures came up for Lancashire in the 12th over, as Liam Livingstone sent Alex Hughes over the leg side for six, but he lasted only a few more balls before heading back to the dugout as well, edging Neesham behind to Harvey Hosein for 16.
He would be the first of Neesham’s four wickets in the evening, the other three in the final over, while Wayne Madsen’s run-out led an extraordinary last set, taking the visitors from 162-5 to 167-9 and paving the way for a Falcons victory.
A disappointing night for the champions, who by rights should have put much more on the board, particularly in light of Petersen’s innings of 79 off 49 balls.
But it’s a credit to the Derbyshire bowling and fielding that they were pulled back so harshly.
The hosts’ top order made fairly light work of the chase, with just the one wicket falling – that of Rutherford for 47, caught at backward point off Stephen Parry – before reaching three figures.
Only another three followed suit, including Durston who added 51 off 34, but the Falcons bat deep in this format and as one strong batter another replaced him.
After the wicket of the sure and steady Chesney Hughes for 22, the second of Steven Croft’s two wickets in two balls, Wayne Madsen and Neesham brought the chase home.
There was some luck involved, as ever, with some less that perfect bowling from the Red Rose and a Luke Proctor drop just when it was needed the least, but ultimately Derbyshire were the better team on the night.
They completed the six-wicket victory in the penultimate over and now move from the bottom of the table to fifth. The quarter-finals are still in sight.