SO LONG has it been since Yorkshire lost to Northants in one-day cricket that Yorkshire’s last one-day trophy was captured more recently.
That trophy, as every student of the club’s history knows, came in 2002 when they beat Somerset in the old Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy; it was the previous year when Northants last got the better of them in a one-day game, gaining a three-wicket win in the Norwich Union 45-over league at Wantage Road.
Since then, Yorkshire had won all 12 meetings between the clubs to go with two abandonments, a sequence of success that continued yesterday in a match that they had to win to retain hope of reaching the Royal London Cup knockout stage.
A five-wicket victory under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, sealed with two balls to spare after rain had brought the target down from 352 to 175, means that they could yet qualify if they win their final two group games away to Worcestershire on Saturday and at home to Durham on Monday.
The closing stages of this match were typical of the helter-skelter chaos when weather intervenes. When the rain initially became so heavy that the umpires took the teams off, Yorkshire were 128-1 from 20.5 overs and seven runs ahead of the DLS par score at that stage, thanks to an unbroken stand of 109 between Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who made 67 from 80 balls with six fours and a six, and Harry Brook, who scored 47 from 38 deliveries with five fours and a maximum.
As such, they would have been perfectly happy had it continued to rain all night, but a break in the skies heralded an 8.20pm restart and an initial revised target of 186 from 26 overs.
Another shower brought this equation down to 175 from 25, or, to put it another way, 47 more runs from 25 balls, and although Yorkshire lost four wickets during that time they kept their nerve as Gary Ballance (28 from 11 balls, including three successive sixes off spinner Rob Keogh which really tipped the scales) and Jonny Tattersall (14 not out from five deliveries) helped carry them home.
“It was a bit of a roller-coaster in the end but good to get the win,” said Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson.
“The rain came and we sat around for a couple of hours and it was a bit nerve-wracking, but Gary hit those three sixes and then Jonny got us over the line.
“We’ve had a bit of bad luck in this tournament, so maybe this is just what we need.
“We’ve got two more must-win games now and will go into them full of confidence.”
On the flattest of surfaces, Northants were dismissed for 351 in 49.3 overs after winning the toss, eclipsing their previous best one-day score against Yorkshire of 339-7 at Wantage Road in 2006.
It was the third-highest total that Yorkshire have conceded in one-day cricket behind Surrey’s 375-4 at Scarborough in 1994 and Lancashire’s 363 at Old Trafford last summer.
The innings was founded on a maiden one-day hundred by Ricardo Vasconcelos, a diminutive 24-year-old South African with a Portuguese passport, along with half-centuries from Richard Levi and Josh Cobb and an unbeaten 45 from Adam Rossington from just 25 balls.
Jason Holder, the West Indies captain playing his final match for Northants before the World Cup, signed off with 36 before being “sawn off” by umpire Martin Saggers, who upheld an lbw appeal from Matt Waite which replays showed was missing leg stump.
Such was the dominance of bat over ball, perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the usually parsimonious Patterson conceded 80 runs from his 10 overs, his most expensive return in a one-day game, it felt as if Northants perhaps left 20-30 runs out in the middle.
Holder’s departure at such a critical juncture, just as he was really starting to get his long levers going in the 33rd over, perhaps even helped to keep the score south of 400. Starting with Holder’s wicket, Yorkshire fought back to take the last seven wickets in the final eight overs, Mat Pillans finishing with his side’s best figures of 3-65.
Patterson and Josh Poysden each claimed two wickets, leg-spinner Poysden having Vasconcelos caught at mid-off by Adam Lyth for 112, made from 97 balls with 11 fours and three sixes, and then Cobb taken on the mid-wicket boundary by Jack Leaning.
Vasconcelos packs quite a punch for a small man, as he proved when swinging Patterson over the square-leg boundary to bring up his fifty from 49 balls.
Later, he pulled Patterson for another six and hooked Pillans over the rope too; with the outfield fast on a humid day, he also got full value for his strokes along the ground in a match in which Yorkshire’s fielding was not at its sharpest. The bigger picture, though, is that Yorkshire remain alive and kicking.