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Luis Reece’s 75 from 51 balls saw Derbyshire upset champions Northamptonshire on the opening night of the NatWest T20 Blast with a rampant seven-wicket win at Wantage Road. Reece steered Derbyshire’s chase of 180 as they won in the final over but victory never looked under threat.

Reece was playing just his fifth T20 but played a fluent knock wth 10 boundaries and a six. His partnership of 64 in 40 balls with Wayne Madsen saw Derbyshire keep in touch with the required rate throughout the middle of the chase. Gary Wilson’s 28 from 15 balls finished the game off as Derbyshire won a T20 at Wantage Road for the first time since 2011.

Had Shiv Thakor not been suspended, Reece may not have even played but he took his chance with a maiden T20 fifty and helped Derbyshire to an opening night win to begin their new era under specialist coach John Wright in perfect style.

Northants’ 179 for 6 appeared a solid total. It was built around Ben Duckett’s 69 from 52 balls. Opening the batting in place of usual opener Richard Levi who hadn’t recovered from concussion, Duckett took few risks in marshalling Northants’ progress. He blazed Hardus Viljoen over extra-cover and turned him past short fine leg in the final over of the Powerplay that brought 52 runs for the run out of Adam Rossington in the first over. Duckett stepped back to cut Matt Critchley past point and swept a low full toss for another boundary.

Duckett eventually fell in the 17th over as Northants slid from 101 for 1 in the 12th over to 132 for 5 in the 17th, a mini collapse began with two wickets in two balls for Viljoen - who finished with 3 for 28, comfortable the pick of the Derbyshire attack. After Josh Cobb had mistimed a drive to mid-off - the catch taken low by Wayne Madsen - Alex Wakely gloved his first ball to wicketkeeper Daryn Smit.

Imran Tahir bowled Rob Keogh trying to cut but the South African legspinner's 1 for 31 wasn’t quite as threatening as Derbyshire would have hoped.

Northants needed a middle-order innings to cash in on their strong start. Steven Crook provided it with 34 in 17 balls. He swung Alex Hughes to the midwicket fence and perfectly bisected long-off and long-on next ball as 16 came off the 18th overs and took Matt Henry’s final delivery over long-off as the New Zealander conceded 42 from his four overs.

“I thought 180 was a decent score and Derbyshire played very, well we couldn’t find the one or two overs to squeeze the required rate up. 

“We can improve our bowling in the Powerplay. We talked about the left-handers scoring through the covers and they scored too many there.

“We tried to squeeze with our spinners and kept fielders in but they used the reverse sweep well and we couldn’t get any dots or pressure.”

Luis Reece said:

“It’s a much better memory for me than going to hospital last time I was on this ground.

“It was a great wicket, we thought 180 was par and we were confident. The ball came really well onto the bat and it was hard to shut the batters down. 

"At no stage did we ever think no we can’t do this and it’s great to get the campaign off with a win.”

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