O'Brien's return fails to fire Northants
Ireland wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien smashed 52 in his first match since returning from the World Twenty20 but it was not enough to prevent Northamptonshire crashing to a six-wicket defeat to Derbyshire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A encounter.
O’Brien's efforts ensured that the hosts posted 230 for six at Wantage Road as Falcons seamer Tom Lungley took 3-41 from his eight overs.
But the visitors had few problems in chasing down their target with eight balls to spare, underpinned by South Africa international Robin Peterson's half-century.
Northants won the toss and captain Nicky Boje chose to bat first, but Stephen Peters went cheaply in the 11th over when he launched Lungley to Tim Groenewald at mid-on.
However, O’Brien stuck around to reach 50 off just 49 balls, including one six swept over fine-leg after bad light had forced an early start for the new floodlights.
He only lasted one more over before he smashed Peterson straight to Derbyshire skipper Chris Rogers at midwicket.
Mal Loye plundered 35 for the Steelbacks before his attempted slog off Greg Smith fell to Wayne Madsen at deep midwicket, where he took a good low catch.
David Sales then threw his wicket away by lifting Smith straight to Groenewald at long-on.
The fifth-wicket partnership of Rob White and Boje put on 55 together before Boje, who made 36 off 25 balls, was caught by Garry Park at long-off off Lungley.
He then promptly bowled White for 29 before James Middlebrook and Andrew Hall, 17 and 18 not out respectively, guided the Steelbacks to their total.
Chasing 231, Derbyshire’s openers Rogers and Chesney Hughes comfortably made 50 together inside 10 overs.
Hughes, the 19-year-old from Anguilla, smashed 41 off 37 balls including seven fours before smacking Lee Daggett to David Lucas at mid-on.
Peterson came to the crease and he and Rogers quickly made 50 between them as the Falcons eased ahead of the required run-rate.
Rogers eventually made it to 47 off 63 balls but went by edging Lucas to O’Brien.
Madsen then joined Peterson at the crease and the third-wicket pair claimed another half-century partnership as the visitors closed in on victory.
Peterson reached his 50 off 54 balls, but he was out the very next ball when he clouted Hall to Middlebrook at mid-on.
Madsen departed for 37, caught by Boje at midwicket off Daggett and in the penultimate over Smith threw his wicket away with a wild shot off Lee Daggett.
But Derbyshire held their nerve as John Sadler hit a four off Hall to seal the win.