As the Falcons prepare for their Vitality Blast quarter-final against Somerset at Taunton this Saturday, we take a look back at ten key moments which made it possible.
1. Scrimshaw holds nerve to beat Lancashire
The victory which virtually secured the Falcons’ qualification for the knockout stages was also the most tense, as young seamer George Scrimshaw conceded just five off his final over to secure a vital two points for Derbyshire.
The visitors had looked in control for much of the Falcons’ innings, restricting them to just 70 off ten overs, but Shan Masood (75) and Wayne Madsen (70) saw the hosts close on 188-5.
Lancashire Lightning then seemed on course for victory, but from 98-2 after ten overs, the Falcons bowled much tighter and forced the game to the final over, where the visitors would need 11.
Scrimshaw, who this week was called up to the England Lions squad to face South Africa later this month, claimed a wicket and conceded just a single and a top edge for four, before firing through a dot ball with the final delivery of the match to the delight of The Incora County Ground.
2. Vikings put to sword by du Plooy
With four wins and four defeats after eight games, the Falcons came into the sold-out fixture against Yorkshire Vikings at Queen’s Park knowing that a win could put them back in contention to progress.
The Vikings started strongly amid a worry weather forecast, but a brilliant spell of 3-20 from George Scrimshaw and a further three wickets from Mark Watt saw the visitors all out for 175.
Mickey Arthur’s side will have been confident of making the chase, but heavy rain and an innings reduced to 105 needed from ten overs swung the advantage firmly in Vikings’ favour.
And it seemed as if it would be a bridge too far, as vice-captain, Leus du Plooy, and Mattie McKiernan entered the final over still needing 19 to win, but the former quickly turned the tables with a six and a four, as well as a wide, off Matthew Waite, before running two and dispatching the bowler out of Queen’s Park to secure a dramatic win.
3. Masood and Madsen masterclass vs Northants
There’s plenty of partnerships between Wayne Madsen and Shan Masood that we could have picked from the group stage. They guided the Falcons to victory at Headingley, and then made a further four partnerships of 80 or more as the Falcons finished with nine wins from 14 games.
However, their stand of 95 against Northants Steelbacks, as the Falcons looked to further reinforce their place against a fellow knockouts hopeful, gets our pick as the best.
Chasing 187 to win, the pair came together at 6.1 overs, with the score 54-2. Madsen started slowly, with four runs from his first seven balls before started to accelerate.
With Masood (57) anchoring the innings well, Madsen (73) scooped, ramped and swept Josh Cobb for 17 off an over, to put the game firmly in Derbyshire’s favour.
Both fell before the end, but a huge six from Leus du Plooy secured victory with one over to spare.
4. Pulling it back to .500 against Worcestershire
At the halfway point in the group stages, the Falcons were 3-4, and they knew a defeat to bottom-of-the-table Worcestershire Rapids would make qualification for the quarter-finals tricky.
Shan Masood top-scored with 65 as the Falcons posted 168-7, but a tight bowling performance was needed if they were to defend that total away from home, which is exactly what the attack produced.
Hayden Kerr set the tone with the wicket of Jake Libby at the end of the first over, while Mark Watt’s beauty to dismiss Moeen Ali first ball kept momentum firmly with the Falcons.
Then, the Mattie McKiernan show started. He’d already hit 14 from just five balls earlier in the night to get the Falcons beyond 160, and he would now make an impact with the ball by claiming 3-19 and conceding just 4.75 runs-an-over.
Derbyshire won by 39 runs, putting their record level going into the Queen’s Park clash with Yorkshire Vikings.
5. Falcons maul Bears at Edgbaston
So, you’ve beaten Worcestershire Rapids and Yorkshire Vikings and now travel to Edgbaston, to face a Birmingham Bears side who have just broken the record for biggest Vitality Blast innings, which they managed against Nottinghamshire two days prior. Sounds a tough task, right?
Well, Mickey Arthur’s Falcons clearly didn’t think so, as they restricted the hosts to 159-7, despite Sam Hain’s classy 73, and set about chasing 160 for the win.
Wayne Madsen (55), Shan Masood (45 not out) and Luis Reece (38 from 24 balls) guided the Falcons to a comprehensive victory at the Finals Day venue, getting over the line with 11 balls to spare.
6. Madsen’s maiden T20 century
He’s Derbyshire’s all-time leading run-scorer in T20 cricket, and this season the 38-year-old has been at his very best, scoring three half-centuries and one century in 14 innings, while he also produced a match-winning knock against Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley.
His maiden T20 century, in Derbyshire’s final group game against Durham, was undoubtedly the best knock of his outstanding campaign so far. Had the Falcons not already qualified for the knockouts, it would have been placed even higher.
Scoring the winning run to reach 100 not out in Derbyshire’s record T20 chase only made it more special, while the figure of 47 balls made it the fastest-ever century for the Club.
7. Spinners’ delight, McKiernan and Watt
Mattie McKiernan (17) and Mark Watt (13) combine for 30 wickets in the group stages, while their economy rates of 7.93 and 8.20 represent the two best for the Club this season.
McKiernan has claimed three wickets in an inning on two occasions this year, while his lower-order power has proved useful for the Falcons. Scotland’s Watt has displayed his aggression and tenacity with the ball, delving into his bag of tricks on multiple occasions.
8. Turning the tide vs Leicestershire
Derbyshire’s win over Leicestershire at The Incora County Ground was the first time the Falcons have done the double over their fellow East Midlands side in T20 cricket.
Chasing 182 to win, Shan Masood (73) and Luis Reece (39) put on 99 for the first wicket, before a late Alex Hughes reverse sweep for six closed the gap, before Brooke Guest’s powered four secured victory, while taking the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Naveen ul-Haq’s, figures to 0-48 off 3.4 overs.
9. Madsen masterclass at Headingley
The Falcons were set 84 to win from eight overs in a rain-affected game at Headingley, as they battled with Yorkshire Vikings in the early competition.
Derbyshire kept up with the run-rate throughout the innings, as Wayne Madsen and Shan Masood aimed to power the Falcons to victory, but the penultimate over, bowled by Shadab Kahn, went for just six.
However, Madsen reverse-swept England’s Adil Rashid over the rope off the first ball of the final over, calming the nerves, before he and Masood made a single each to take the points.
10. First win against Leicestershire
Shan Masood’s maiden Vitality Blast half-century for Derbyshire, and Leus du Plooy’s innovation in front of the Sky cameras, helped the Falcons to a seemingly tricky defence of 159-5.
The bowlers stepped up, however, starting with Hayden Kerr bowling Scott Steel in the first over, before tight lines and constantly testing deliveries saw the hosts bowled out for 89 in 15.3 overs.
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