AT THE halfway stage of their innings last night Yorkshire were on course for a world record total in T20 cricket.
They were 134-2 from 10 overs after a remarkable exhibition of devastating hitting.
Had they been able to double their score from that position, they would have eclipsed the record of 263 shared by Royal Challengers Bangalore and Australia.
As it was, they had to be content with 226-8 from their 20 overs, still their fourth-highest T20 score and more than enough to beat Birmingham Bears, who reached 176-4 in reply after a shower had reduced their target to 208 from 18 overs.
Yorkshire, whose 31-run DLS victory was their fourth in six Vitality Blast matches this year as they plough a seemingly inexorable path to the knockout stages, already have the highest T20 total in England to their credit – 260-4 against Northants at Headingley last August, which is also the joint second-highest anywhere on the planet.
And when openers Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Adam Lyth were in the midst of brutal assaults on a hot and humid night in front of 8,632 spectators, it seemed as though something in that ballpark was on the cards again.
Lyth, who struck an English record 161 in that Northants fixture, looked in the mood for something similarly special after Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson won the toss and chose to bat on a bare-looking pitch.
Lyth thrashed 40 from 16 balls, with six fours and two sixes, in a savage display in which he pummelled Chris Woakes, the England pace bowler, for 6, 4, 6, 4, 4 in a second over that disappeared for 25.
Boyd Rankin, the former England pace bowler, also conceded 25 in his first over (including three sixes by Kohler-Cadmore) as Yorkshire reached 92-1 at the end of the six-over powerplay, Lyth having fallen with the score on 63 when he sliced Woakes to Rankin at short third-man.
David Willey came and went, trapped lbw by the economical Jeetan Patel, but Kane Williamson picked up the baton and immediately showcased his class, late-cutting his first delivery from Patel for four.
While Kohler-Cadmore hit brutally to leg in particular, Williamson’s most eye-catching strokes were late glides/cuts, none better than when he guided Rankin to the boundary in front of the pavilion with the deftest flick.
After reaching his half-century from just 20 balls, Kohler-Cadmore’s departure for 73 from 30 balls with five fours and six sixes in the 11th over, bowled as he tried a big shot to leg, was the moment when any world record attempt was going to prove difficult, with not everyone possessing that player’s power.
Gary Ballance chipped in with 35 from 21 before pulling to deep mid-wicket, and Williamson’s time ended in the 18th when he was caught at long-off for 49 from 30, featuring six fours and a six.
Tim Bresnan skied to the wicketkeeper, Jonny Tattersall lofted to deep point, and Adil Rashid fell in the last over for a golden duck when he lobbed to mid-on.
After starting the Birmingham reply with three dot balls to Ed Pollock, a heavy shower drove the sides from the field, resulting in the loss of two overs.
During the delay, a man wearing only a pair of underpants escaped from the West Stand and dived a good 10 yards on his stomach across the slippery tarpaulin cover, at which point he was led away by stewards with the announcement that any spectator who invades the playing area is liable to a £1,000 fine.
When play resumed, Pollock uppercut Bresnan to the wicketkeeper, and Birmingham fell to 58-2 in the seventh when Rashid trapped Sam Hain.
Following the controversies of recent days, it was interesting to note that Rashid was warmly applauded when he came on to bowl, the leg-spinner taking 1-19 from his three overs.
Liam Plunkett had Ian Bell caught at mid-on for 42 from 33 and then Adam Hose taken at long-on from a huge skier for 43 from 31, both catches to Bresnan.
Colin de Grandhomme smashed an unbeaten 38 from 19 with three sixes, but it was a clinical performance by Yorkshire, who are back in T20 action today against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.