Yorkshire 195 for 6 (Malan 83, de Grandhomme 3-24) beat Lancashire 180 for 8 (Hartley 39) by 15 runs
There have been many wonderful Roses contests in the Blast, but perhaps for a truly momentous night there has never been one quite like this. Yorkshire, trying to rise above off-field difficulties, with one win since last August; Lancashire, with Jos Buttler added to their star-studded ranks.
But it was Yorkshire, beaten eight times in the last 10 Roses encounters, who emerged against many expectations with a 15-run win. There was no immediate joy for Butter, who followed up an increasingly jaded IPL by falling second ball for 1.
Victories change tournaments. Sometimes they change seasons. Is it hyperbole to wonder if this has saved a club? A club dicing with bankruptcy. A young side psychologically shaken by events beyond their control. But Yorkshire have summoned back-to-back wins against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and now in a Headingley Roses match, a result that few expected on the most boisterous night on the Blast’s calendar.
As the winless run became almost unbearable, Dawid Malan has come into his own with two match-winning performances: 95 at Trent Bridge, now Lancashire taken for 83 from 50 balls. When the going gets tough, and all that…
Yorkshire’s 195 for 6 felt 15 or so under par, but they took early wickets and when Tom Hartley threatened to pull off a heist, Jordan Thompson and Matthew Revis provided nerveless contributions in the final overs that seemed beyond them a week ago. Thompson’s variations, with 60 needed from five, were at the height of his game.
Darren Gough, a director of cricket who has dared to take on the hardest job in cricket, had the guts to appear on Sky Sports with the game in the balance. “You learn from failure then suddenly you get to the point where it just clicks,” Gough said. It is far too early to suggest that it has, but it is a start. Lancashire remain far likelier to claim a top-four spot, but they have now lost two from two and will lack Saqib Mahmood for the foreseeable future with another as yet unspecified injury.
“Ah wun’t be goin’,” a few Yorkshire old-timers would have been saying. Perhaps, instead, it was another vaguely slighted evening in front of ITV3 and a re-run of Vera, where appropriately enough DI Vera Stanhope was “sifting evidence of grief, love and addiction.” They missed a treat.
Despite deflating results on the field, and despite some crippling overspend and dubious decisions during Lord Kamlesh Patel’s time as chair and de facto chief executive, Yorkshire, to their credit, have remained stoutly committed to a more diverse and inclusive future. The Roses match coincided with the announcement of a new A new LGBTQ+ supporters’ group – Yorkshire and Proud – which the club said it hopes “is an important step towards ensuring Headingley is a welcoming place for all.”
If Adam Lyth made an initial batting statement for Yorkshire, taking four successive boundaries from Luke Wood’s first over, it was Malan who carried it forward. His timing was not always immaculate, but strength of body was allied to strength of character and his manipulation was precise. He has come to know the Headingley square, and as good a pitch as it was, he says that he tends to play squarer these days to combat a more tennis-ball bounce.
Even as he took the third over, Lancashire’s captain, Liam Livingstone, must have wondered if his uncertain decision to bowl was wise. To make life tougher, several mishits fell short of him in the field. A catch was impossible, but the crowd took its chance to ridicule all the same. It was a bad night, too, for Luke Wood, Lancashire’s leading wicket-taker, who conceded 55, a joint Lancashire record.
By the time Malan took two steps down the pitch – not a regular sight – to deposit Matt Parkinson’s legspin into the Rugby Stand, Livingstone was not as much rotating his bowlers as running through the card. He found his solutions in unpredictable places: Luke Wells began to arrest Yorkshire’s charge; Colin de Grandhomme came up trumps with 3 for 24.
De Grandhomme broke the stand at 88 in the 10th over when Lyth fell to Hartley’s catch above his head tight to the midwicket boards. Lancashire’s fielding did not always survive the clamour. Parkinson dropped a sitter at short fine when Malan, on 63, was bemused by de Grandhomme’s modestly-paced bouncer, but Will Luxton fell next ball, his leg-side pick-up caught at the second attempt by Wood.
Yorkshire shuffled a youthful order intelligently: individual growth demanded in a position best designed to achieve it. Shan Masood dropped himself to No. 5, an impressive self-assessment by a captain who is bearing a heavy responsibility. He would have been run out first ball had Buttler’s shy at the bowler’s end struck the stumps. Masood became de Grandhomme’s third wicket, his flat pull to deep midwicket giving Hartley the chance to stand tall for a catch that again silenced the Western Terrace.
That allowed Revis, who has the ability to go big, to make an unbeaten 24 from 16 balls. There was also the briefest of cameos from Thompson, pushed up to No. 6. This is a side getting to know itself, and that is necessary if it is to turn some of its weaknesses into strengths.
Buttler’s presence in the Blast this season is an uplifting sight. So heavy have been England’s demands that he has managed only seven Blast matches in five years. This season alone with England’s white-ball season delayed until September, he can play double that. “I’m really looking to forward to getting stuck in,” he said. Not on this occasion. Dom Bess’ second ball, thrown wide of off stump, was slapped to mid-off.
Yorkshire shifted the balance with four wickets in the first seven overs of Lancashire’s innings as they slipped to 64 for 4. Luke Wells had threatened to change the game in a trice with 20 from his first five balls, but Ben Mike had his best five minutes in a Yorkshire shirt, first causing Wells to hole out in the deep then holding Phil Salt’s return catch.
Another display of note, rewared by the wicket of Daryl Mitchell, caught at long-on, came from Jafer Chohan, who has arrived at Yorkshire via Loughborough University, the South Asian Cricket Academy and – lest it be forgotten – Yorkshire’s commitment to a more diverse future.
It has become commonly held that Chohan’s breakthrough came after Joe Root faced him in the England nets. That story has an international flavour and perhaps has some validity.
Gough, trenchantly, burned to give his version. His son had been playing in Essex and was bamboozled by Chohan so, upon hearing this, Gough invited him for a trial. “I saw him for 10 minutes. Young man, I said, I will be sending you a contract in the next 24 hours.” A rival history, now duly implanted in the consciousness of the cricketing nation. Lovely stuff.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps