YORKSHIRE’s supporters could have been forgiven for watching this week’s NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals from afar with something approaching incredulity.
How could their side have not got through to the knockout stages?
How could a team that was top of the North Group after nine of its 14 games have slipped to a final position of fifth?
How could an outfit packed with so many explosive talents – Adam Lyth, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, David Willey, to name just the top-three batsmen – have been usurped by such as Derbyshire and Leicestershire?
How could a side that made an English record 260-4 in their final group game against defending champions Northants – and Lyth an English record individual score of 161 – not have progressed?
Forget the disappointment of mounting an unsuccessful challenge for this year’s County Championship, it will be Yorkshire’s failure to finish in the top four of the T20 North Group that might just be their most gnawing reflection come season’s end, assuming that the four-day campaign does not implode.
Despite worse finishes in both one-day tournaments this year, one gets the impression that Yorkshire’s white-ball cricket is moving forward.Chris Waters
So, how comes it that Yorkshire did not at least qualify for the quarter-finals?
After all, this was a team that passed 150 in all 11 completed innings, seven of which were over 180 and four over 220.
Such a rate of scoring was more than good enough to win the cup, let alone qualify for the last eight, and Yorkshire have made great strides with the bat in T20. But just as Yorkshire spanked the likes of Northants out of sight (some international sides might have struggled to live with them at times), so they lost several close games that ultimately cost them.
Indeed, they could easily have won all five matches that they lost.
There was the three-run defeat at Chesterfield; the five-wicket defeat at Trent Bridge with five balls left when Notts chased 224; another five-wicket defeat with two balls left against Derbyshire at Headingley; a one-run defeat at Durham and a four-wicket defeat at Leicestershire – again, with two balls left.
When the pressure was on, Yorkshire were not quite up to the task, their performance throughout the competition a curious mix of thumping wins and narrow defeats.
The weather played its part, but every county was affected and, like Yorkshire, group winners Notts had two no-results.
If anything, it was the incredible defeat to Notts at Trent Bridge that seemed to suck the wind out of Yorkshire’s sails if not tangibly, then perhaps subconsciously.
Even accounting for the brilliance of Alex Hales, who smashed a hundred, the visitors should not have lost after scoring 223-5, the first of four defeats in five games towards the end.
Individually, there were some fine performances, not least from Lyth, Willey, Adil Rashid, Azeem Rafiq, Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan.
Yorkshire’s bowling in the powerplay was sometimes a weakness but, in general, their plans were clear and their templates solid, not least in the batting powerplay, when they often excelled.
Despite worse finishes in both one-day tournaments this year, one gets the impression that Yorkshire’s white-ball cricket is moving forward.
However, that long wait for a trophy continues – now 15 years and counting.