A GIANT sinkhole opened up in the centre of Headingley yesterday, leading to the closure of the main Otley Road.
Any fears that Yorkshire’s hopes of reaching the Royal London Cup knockout stages would also go down the drain proved unfounded, however, as they beat Northants by four wickets.
Needing a victory to secure their place, Yorkshire dismissed Northants for 241 and then won with an over to spare, David Willey scoring 71, Gary Ballance 66 and 23-year-old Jonathan Tattersall a first-team best 52 not out.
Yorkshire finished third in the North Group and will meet Essex in a quarter-final play-off at Chelmsford on Thursday (2pm); had they won with nine or more overs to spare they would have had a home tie against Kent. Victory at Essex will set up a semi-final at Hampshire.
“We’re just delighted to get through to the knockout stages,” said first-team coach Andrew Gale. “We’re going to be massive underdogs going forward now; four or five players aren’t going to be with us (due to international duty), so we’ll go to Essex with a completely different team.
“But this was a great win for us, and for Tatt (Tattersall) to knock them off like that was a career-defining moment.
“Throughout the tournament, he’s been great with the gloves, and he did a fantastic job in seeing us home.”
After Northants chose to bat in hazy sunshine, Yorkshire soon had them in trouble at 23-3 in the seventh over.
Willey, the former Northants all-rounder, took two of the wickets as he had a defending Ben Duckett caught behind and a driving Ricardo Vasconcelos taken at slip, Matthew Fisher claiming the other when Adam Rossington spliced to mid-on.
Alex Wakely, the Northants captain, and Rob Keogh added 45 for the fourth-wicket as Wakely, in particular, took the fight to the bowlers, pulling Steve Patterson and Adil Rashid for six.
But Tim Bresnan, back in the side at the expense of Liam Plunkett, looked like a man with a point to prove, and he duly did so when striking with his second ball from the Kirkstall Lane end to have Keogh caught behind with a fine delivery.
Bresnan then got rid of the dangerous Wakley, who clipped him to mid-wicket after making 42 from 52 balls. Bresnan might have had a third wicket – and Yorkshire a sixth – with the score on 84 but Willey dropped a very tough chance, flying to his left, when Charlie Thurston, on nine, hit hard towards point.
Thurston followed up by pulling Bresnan for six, but Northants fell to 101-6 in the 25th over when Saif Zaib skied Rashid to mid-on, where Kohler-Cadmore completed the gift of a dismissal.
Another one followed when Rory Kleinveldt, after thumping a couple of sixes off Rashid, sliced the leg-spinner to mid-off, ending a stand of 42 in six overs with Thurston.
Thurston, a 21-year-old on List A debut, hammered back a difficult return chance to Joe Root on 47, the England Test captain unable to cling on.
Root had to leave briefly for treatment and returned with a plaster on his right index finger.
Thurston had reached 53 when he pulled Fisher to deep mid-wicket, where Bresnan judged an excellent low catch, ending a stand of 46 in seven overs with Graeme White.
White finished on a career-best 41 but ran out of partners as Brett Hutton clipped Patterson to deep-square-leg and last man Ben Cotton skied Willey to mid-off, Willey finishing with 3-24.
With seven current or former internationals in their ranks, Yorkshire were unlikely to come unstuck, particularly against a side already eliminated.
But they were made to work as they slipped to 134-5 in the 33rd over before Ballance and Tattersall combined in a decisive stand of 87. Both openers had fallen early: Adam Lyth caught behind off a good one from Kleinveldt that climbed, and Kohler-Cadmore strangled down the leg-side off Hutton.
Willey, fresh from a Yorkshire-best 131 against Lancashire, gave the innings impetus with a brace of brutal off-side fours off Cotton.
Root was content to let him have the strike while supplying 18 from 40 balls, his innings ending when he tried to reverse paddle-scoop Keogh and was caught behind, ending a partnership of 75 in 15 overs. Keogh spun Northants back into contention and claimed a second wicket when he trapped Cheteshwar Pujara, the hosts slipping to 134-5 when Willey –following a period in which Yorkshire had been tied down by spin – hoisted left-arm slow bowler Zaib to long-on.
It could have gone either way at that stage, but Ballance was business-like and Tattersall busy, the pair taking the sting out of Northants before Bresnan helped supply the coup de grace.
Tattersall, tidy behind the stumps and impressive with the bat, could reflect with satisfaction on a breakthrough display, his runs arriving from 66 balls and including three fours.