The team with the worst record in the history of English Twenty20 cricket beat the team with the best as Derbyshire upset defending NatWest Blast champions Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Falcons swooped on a nine-wicket win with 5.2 overs to spare chasing 132 in this 19-over contest following an impressive bowling and fielding display, including two wickets for overseas debutant Jimmy Neesham.
Liam Livingstone and Arron Lilley were both run out going for two late in the Lightning’s modest 131 for seven after rain delayed the start by 75 minutes.
Neesham’s fellow New Zealander Hamish Rutherford then led the chase with a blistering unbeaten 71 off 40 balls with six fours and three sixes.
Prior to this North Group opener, Derbyshire had only won a total of 39 matches in 13 seasons compared to Lancashire’s 84.
Lancashire included former captain Tom Smith in their line-up following 13 months away from first-team action with a career threatening back injury and more recent hamstring problems.
But, after two fours in his nine off eight balls, he chipped Neesham’s seamers to mid-on before the innings struggled for momentum against some excellent pace off the ball bowling.
Neesham later trapped home captain Steven Croft lbw for a top-score of 31, while Livingstone (25) was the only other batsman to pass 20 after Derbyshire elected to field first.
Neesham finished with two for 38 from his four overs added to wickets for Shiv Thakor, Andy Carter and Alex Hughes.
Although going wicketless, Preston-born leg-spinner Matt Critchley was excellent through the middle of the innings in only conceding 19 runs from his four overs.
Lancashire failed to score a boundary from the fourth ball of the fifth over to the fourth ball of the 13th.
Captain Wes Durston got Derbyshire’s chase off to a flyer with four fours and a six over wide long-on off Neil Wagner in the first two overs.
The hosts also lost Gavin Griffiths to a finger injury after bowling just one ball - sustained whilst trying to take a sharp return catch from Rutherford’s bat at the start of the third over when he was on one.
Durston was the first wicket to fall early in the fourth when he skied George Edwards to mid-off, but he had scored 30 of 38 by then.
Rutherford continued the assault to take his side beyond 50 in the fifth over before hoisting Edwards over long-on for six in the next.
The left-hander hit two more sixes over long-on in the eighth and ninth overs, off Stephen Parry and Lilley, on the way to a 24-ball fifty.
The Falcons reached ten overs at 103 for one, needing only 29 more.
Rutherford was well supported by another of Derbyshire’s Kiwi contingent, Neil Broom (25 not out), as they shared an unbroken 94 inside eleven overs for the second wicket.
Derbyshire captain Wes Durston said: “It was the perfect start really. We come here and expect a tough game. The fact that they’re defending champions, it was great to come here and get the two points.
“We got an early wicket and that relaxed us. The first game everyone’s energy levels are really high and you can sometimes do silly things. But getting that wicket calmed us down and we controlled the powerplay and adjusted the way we bowled to that wicket.
“I was really pleased for Matt Critchley on debut. Bowling leg-spin is not easy, and he bowled beautifully in partnership with Alex Hughes. We squeezed the game and were delighted to be chasing 132.
“132, the pressure’s on us to win the game. They will feel they were under par. We tried to get off to a fast start and above the rate before the spinners came into the game. That’s exactly how it proved. Hamish played fantastically with Broomy to finish the game off.”
Lancashire cricket director and head coach Ashley Giles said: “Tough would be a word I might use. We’ve been pumped really by Derbyshire.
“Credit must go to them, they played really well. We didn’t play so well. We have to play better than that through the rest of the competition. We talked about being pro-active and starting well, and we’ve not done that.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, but the pitch was tricky up front. The covers had been on for 24 hours and even up to the toss, they were still on.
“The ball stuck in the wicket early on, and it was tricky to score. Whether it got much better, I don’t know. We’ll need to speak as a group and see what the players think. Overall, not the way we wanted to start at home.”