Lancashire’s Croft and Faulkner take the game away from Derbyshire in T20 Blast

Steven Croft hit a spectacular career best 94 not out as Lancashire secured a comprehensive 67-run NatWest T20 Blast win over Derbyshire Falcons at Emirates Old Trafford.

The Lightning’s captain smashed nine fours and two sixes in a 51-ball assault to underpin 201 for three after they had been in bother at 62 for three after ten overs.

Croft shared a county record fourth-wicket partnership of 151 unbroken off 80 balls with Australian James Faulkner, who finished 47 not out off 30 with three sixes and two fours.

The Lightning then bowled the Falcons out for 134 to complete a third win from five North Division matches and a second on the spin after last week’s victory over Yorkshire at Headingley, which was inspired by Jos Buttler.

Croft and Faulkner struck once apiece with the ball, but left-arm spinner Stephen Parry finished with four for 16 from his three overs.

This was a Buttler-esque display of power hitting from Croft, especially, after the visitors had elected to bowl, although minus Buttler’s trademark reverse sweeps and scoops.

Ashwell Prince, Karl Brown and Liam Livingstone all fell inside the first eight overs to Wayne White, Tony Palladino and Wes Durston, leaving the score at 50 for three.

Lancashire went 37 balls without a boundary from the end of the sixth over to the start of the 13th, but Croft and Faulkner hit 11 fours and five sixes in the last eight overs.

Twenty one runs came off Palladino in the 13th over before 29 came off Nathan Rimmington in the 19th, including two sixes and six no balls courtesy of a head high full toss at Faulkner which went for four. White then conceded 20 off the last of his former county’s innings.

The Faulkner and Croft alliance continued as Derbyshire made a forgettable start to their reply as Durston edged the Australian left-armer’s second ball of the innings to Croft at slip to leave the score at one for one.

Tillakaratne Dilshan top-edged Tom Bailey behind for a brisk 21 - 44-2 in the seventh.

The Falcons reached halfway at 79-2 with Chesney Hughes unbeaten on 39, but he miscued Arron Lilley’s off-spin to long-on with the first ball of the 11th.

Bailey bowled Billy Godleman with 99 on the board in the 13th and although the visitors were still ahead on runs in comparison to the first innings, their chances were disappearing.

Croft picked up his wicket when Wayne Madsen reverse swept his off-spinners to backward point in the next, leaving the score at 105-5.

Parry struck to get Scott Elstone and Tom Poynton caught at long-on in the 16th - 117-7 - before trapping Shiv Thakor lbw and getting White caught at point in his next.

Debutant quick Saqib Mahmood wrapped up the win by getting Palladino caught behind with ten balls unused. Derbyshire have now only won one of their six matches.

Lancashire captain Steven Croft said: “It was a great win. It was good to have a bit of breathing space and not be at the last ball. I’ve been losing a few hairs, so we thought we’d extend the margin (of victory). It was a great team performance set up with the bat. We came out with the ball and killed it off ten overs in. James is a good one to bat with. He keeps it nice and simple. We targeted our bowlers and our areas, and it came off. It was a great partnership.”

Derbyshire batsman Wayne Madsen said: “Clearly the partnership between Croft and Faulkner took it away from us. A score of 200 is tough to chase. I thought we had a good crack. We played well early doors and were in a decent position. We were up with their run-rate for the first ten or 12 overs. Then we just lost wickets. We had to go hard at it, but I thought they bowled pretty well. We missed out execution with the ball.”