When Derbyshire set about trying to establish themselves as a force in T20 cricket, the focus was on players with the international pedigree of Imran Tahir and Matt Henry.
Both have played their part in what has so far been the most memorable campaign in the club’s history but one player has also stepped up in a way few anticipated.
Luis Reece had played few T20 games before this season but the former Lancashire batsman has been a force for the Falcons as he showed on Tuesday night with a match-winning innings that has carried the team to the brink of the quarter-finals.
His 66 from 49 balls secured a three wicket win over Durham Jets and lifted the Falcons to second in the North Group with the two games to play, at Leicester tomorrow (Thursday) and then at home to Worcestershire on Friday.
Reece is now the only Derbyshire player to score four fifties in a T20 season and Daryn Smit, who is leading the team while Gary Wilson is on international duty, appreciates his value to the side.
“Luis has been absolutely brilliant, he quietly goes about his business and he’s an unassuming character but once he walks over the ropes, he’s led our batting nicely,” said Smit.
“There have been games when you don’t always come off and when he hasn’t someone has covered for him and likewise when others haven’t he’s taken us home.
“He’s quite humble and calm and not always bubbly and bouncing around out there but he’s got a wise head and that’s showed .”
Derbyshire’s success in the NatWest T20 Blast has been based on contributions throughout the team which Smit believes has been important.
“The batters at times have baled us out but that’s the nature of the game, sometimes the bowlers will step up and sometimes it might be vice-versa which is what makes a good team when one can cover for the other.
“What makes a dangerous team is when you have guys on form on any given day when one of your top batters or bowlers can do the business for you. It’s not like some teams we have played against us who are a little bit top heavy, we bat deep and we a lot of bowling options.”
The aim now is to cement a quarter-final and a top two finish which would guarantee a home game next week.
“I don’t think we want to relax now and take our foot off the gas,” Smit said. “It’s important that we keep going and take some momentum into the quarter-finals , we don’t want to be scrapping through and going in off the back of two losses and having to play away.
“We’ve played some good cricket here and the crowds have been fantastic so I think they deserve the reward of a home quarter-final.”