Ross Whiteley marked his return to first team cricket with a hurricane half century as super Worcestershire Rapids launched their Royal London One-Day campaign with an impressive 50 run success over with Derbyshire Falcons at Blackfinch New Road.
The Rapids total of 323-6 was their second highest ever against first class opposition in 50 over cricket at their own headquarters.
Then an impressive and disciplined bowling performance and some excellent fielding resulted in the Falcons being bowled out for 273.
It was a case of carrying on where they left off for the Rapids after topping the North Group last summer and was a welcome boost after a challenging start to their Specsavers County Championship campaign.
Whiteley, who has been playing white ball cricket this winter in the Bangladesh Premier League and Pakistan Super League, smashed 58 off 39 balls with three sixes and seven fours.
His big-hitting resulted in three lost balls from his trio of shots that cleared the boundary and provided terrific entertainment for a sun drenched crowd.
The left hander received magnificent support from Ben Cox in a sixth wicket stand of 101 in 10 overs.
He ended unbeaten on 56 from 51 balls with one six and four fours.
The only score higher against first class opposition at the County’s headquarters by the home side was their 342 all out against Yorkshire last summer.
Tom Fell (56), Brett D’Oliveira (44) and Travis Head (30) – who later picked up two wickets – also played a full part in setting up a challenging target for the Falcons with some calm but effective batting on a slowish pitch.
The Rapids, who reached the semi-finals last season, opted to bat first but lost two early wickets.
Daryl Mitchell (12) was caught behind off Duanne Oliveir and Joe Clarke (14) flicked a Ravi Rampaul delivery off his legs to Luis Reece at deep square leg.
Head, who was making his One-Day Cup debut for the Rapids, and Fell repaired the damage with a stand of 60 in 13 overs for the third wicket.
Head collected three boundaries in an over from Rampaul and Fell cover drove spinner Matt Critchley to the ropes.
Alex Hughes broke the stand when Head on 30 went for a pull and nicked through to Smit.
But then Fell featured in another substantial stand with D’Oliveira as the Worcestershire innings gathered momentum.
Fell went to an excellent half century – from 64 balls with six boundaries – with a single off Luis Reece.
A partnership of 62 in 11 overs was broken as Fell went for a cut against Reece and was caught behind.
D’Oliveira was within four runs of his half century when he stepped back to try and hit Hu.ghes down the ground and was bowled.
The Rapids were then 186-5 in the 38th over but then Whiteley and Cox joined forces to devastating effect.
Whiteley displayed the big hitting which has become his trademark and he got off the mark with a six over wide long off against Hughes.
It set the tone for a brutal display of hitting with Cox also showing his ability to score quickly.
The partnership was finally broken when Whiteley was caught off a skier at mid off from the bowling of Sharif.
But Barnard ensured the momentum was maintained to the end of the innings with four boundaries in a Rampaul over.
When Derbyshire launched their reply, skipper Joe Leach made an early breakthrough with an excellent return low catch to dismiss Ben Slater (10) with 15 on the board.
Head came into the attack and made a significant breakthrough when Billy Godleman (23) pushed forward and was bowled at 66-2 in the 13th over.
Reece and Wayne Madsen joined forces and the former went to his half century off 57 balls with five boundaries during a partnership of 77 in 13 overs.
But he then went for a violent pull at Barnard and was bowled for 62 – his best score in List A cricket.
Josh Tongue returned to the attack and Matt Critchley (12) paid the price for trying to hook a rising ball which was full in length and top edged through to keeper Cox.
Madsen went to his half century off 45 balls with five boundaries and looked untroubled in reaching 87.
But Head struck for the second time when Madsen (87) reverse swept the spinner into the hands of Tongue at gulley at 208-5. His 70 ball knock contained 12 fours.
Mitchell turned the screw for the Rapids with two wickets in three balls as he had Daryn Smit (22) caught behind and tempted Hardus Viljoen (0) to hole out to long on.
D’Oliveira then held onto a stunning return catch, one-handed away to his right, to bring about Safyaan Sharif’s downfall for a single in the next over.
After Duanne Olivier (6) had been run out by Leach’s return to bowler Mitchell, the Rapids sealed victory when Hughes (47) drilled the skipper to Barnard at cover.