But the rain that washed out the final 10 overs of the Yorkshire innings when all records were on, the ground record of 379-7 made by Yorkshire in their opening match in this year’s competition against Leicestershire, plus their own club record of 411-6 against minor county Durham at Exmouth in 2004, completely changed the complexion of events as the contest ended in a dramatic tie.
Having faced a likely target of 400-plus, Derbyshire were left with a revised requirement of 225 from 22 overs, which, although still on the tough side of difficult, was more sustainable over a shorter time frame.
Nevertheless, it was still one heck of an effort by captain Billy Godleman and his players to share the spoils and so nearly pull off a famous win, Godleman leading the way with an undefeated 107, his third successive century in the competition – the first Derbyshire player to achieve this feat in List A cricket.
For Yorkshire, crestfallen as they left the field on a chilly, murky evening beneath beaming floodlights, it was their second tie in four matches as they reached the halfway point of a group campaign that has also brought one victory and one defeat to leave them facing a battle to reach the knockout stages.
Godleman and Matt Critchley, who finished unbeaten on 33 after a stand of 79 with his captain in 7.5 overs, looked hardly less dispirited themselves after they narrowly failed to score the 17 they needed from the final over bowled by David Willey, who was making his last appearance before the World Cup, following a superb penultimate over from captain Steve Patterson which produced only six runs.
As ever, a tied match left both teams full of mixed emotions and reflecting on a misfield here or an extra there, the sort of fine margins that are likely to jolt players awake in the middle of the night.
The moral victory, though, was undoubtedly Derbyshire’s; few outside their players’ close families and friends would have given them much hope at the start of the chase.
Before the rain, which lasted for two hours and caused a three-hour stoppage, at one point threatening a no-result, Yorkshire’s dominance was absolute. After Patterson won the toss and chose to bat on a used pitch that rapidly brought heartbreak to bowlers, Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore shared an opening stand of 157 in 24 overs, ended when Lyth top-edged a pull off Ravi Rampaul to long-leg, where Sam Conners judged an excellent catch in the swirling wind.
Lyth made 78 from 60 balls with nine fours and two sixes, while Kohler-Cadmore went one better, making 79 from 92 balls with eight fours before he departed three overs later, caught at extra-cover by Wayne Madsen off Critchley’s leg-spin.
For a time, the loss of two wickets in quick succession seemed to slightly slow Yorkshire, but it was not long before the third-wicket pair of Willey and Harry Brook were not only maintaining the tempo but also increasing it, Willey going to a 39-ball fifty and Brook following him to the mark from just 36 deliveries.
Willey, all brute force and belting drives, had advanced to 72 from 49 with eight fours and three sixes when the clouds opened, while Brook had progressed to 59 from 40 with seven fours and a six, their stand worth 141 inside 13 overs. Derbyshire’s task, already stiff, seemed stuffed when they slipped to 10-2 as Luis Reece and Madsen each departed for a single.
But Godleman and Leus du Plooy, a 24-year-old Kolpak signing, turned the game on its head with a third-wicket stand of 135 in 13 overs, du Plooy scoring 75 of them from 37 balls with seven fours and five sixes before he holed out to deep mid-wicket.
After Godleman struck Willey for a four and a six early in the last over, the equation came down to two needed off the final delivery.
Godleman was unable to make contact but the batsmen scampered through for a bye.
Yorkshire all-rounder Ed Barnes has joined Sussex on loan for the rest of the Royal London Cup.
Barnes, 21, has yet to make his first team debut for the White Rose but has represented England U19s.
Jason Gillespie, the former Yorkshire first team coach and current Sussex coach, said: “I know Eddie from when he was on the academy during my time with Yorkshire.
“Eddie came through the age groups at Yorkshire and has been in and around the senior squad for a few years now.
“He’s a talented bowler who can also bat, as well as being a lovely lad who I am sure will fit in our dressing room here.
Barnes, who could make his debut against Middlesex at Lord’s today, said: “It’s all happened so quickly that I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.”