There will be more than just local pride at stake when Derbyshire Falcons face rivals Notts Outlaws in the T20 Vitality Blast tonight.
After Wednesday evening’s game at Headingley was put back to the end of the month to avoid clashing with England's World Cup semi-final, the hosts go into the match at the 3aaa County Ground without a win in the competition.
Home defeats to Lancashire Lightning and Worcestershire Rapids have left Derbyshire second from bottom of the North Group and, although fortunes can change quickly in T20, another loss would certainly dent hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stage.
Falcons T20 coach John Wright warned before the tournament that it might be harder to emulate last season’s impressive campaign when Derbyshire reached the quarter-finals for only the second time.
If the Falcons flew below the radar in 2017, it was inevitable teams would be better prepared to play them this summer, but captain Gary Wilson is confident they have the quality to mount another challenge.
“There’s no point getting downhearted, it’s T20 and you are going to lose games,” he said.
“There are 12 games left, which is the way we are looking at it. I think last year we were three and three in the first six games, so we need to get on a bit of a run, and I think we've got the players to do it.
“In the two games we’ve played, after the batting powerplay we've been something like 29-3 and 35-2, so clearly we’ve haven't got enough up front, but it’s not easy, especially if you lose wickets.
“There’s no point getting downhearted, it’s T20 and you are going to lose games.”
“But you’ve got to find a way and it's probably a case of trying to play better cricket. You can’t attack it with the intention of having to score this many off the powerplay, we simply have to be a little bit better at what we are doing.
“We’ve had to rebuild twice but you are going to lose wickets and the last thing I want is for the guys to start playing with fear or pressure. They’ve got to go out and know that if they get out, the guys coming in behind them will do it.”
Despite a second defeat, Wilson was encouraged by the way the bowlers made Worcestershire work on Sunday to overhaul a modest target.
“I thought the way we bowled was an improvement, our lengths were far better” he said. “I thought they identified they were a bit full in the first game and the way they came back was superb.”
One of the positives so far has been the second overseas signing of New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, who took 2-25 in his four overs on Sunday.
Ferguson was recruited after Derbyshire were unable to keep Duanne Olivier and, although the 27-year-old is relatively unknown in this country, first impressions have been promising.
“He’s looked good,” Wilson said. “He’s quick, hungry and I've been impressed with his attitude as well.
“We took a bit of a punt on him and he's done well so far. He’s got a good slower ball and his quicker ball is very quick, so we are very happy with him.”
Notts Outlaws are in Vitality Blast action twice next week, with fixtures against the Durham Jets (Tuesday 17 July, 6:30pm) and the Leicestershire Foxes (Friday 20 July, 6:30pm). Click here to book in advance and save...