THERE was plenty of activity in Worcester on Saturday.
At the city’s Guildhall, a gin festival was taking place, drawing great interest from old soaks and sober observers alike.
Further down the road, a man with a sandwich board around his neck was proclaiming that the end of the world is nigh, presumably in reference to the ECB’s new 100-ball tournament that starts next year.
And, in front of the statue of Sir Edward Elgar, the city’s finest son, a rock band was entertaining Bank Holiday crowds with various cover versions.
Among them was a particularly fine rendition of Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty, which struck one as an apposite metaphor for Yorkshire’s one-day cricket on a day when they crashed out of the Royal London Cup with one game to play.
Defeat by 150 runs to Worcestershire means that Yorkshire can no longer qualify for the knockout stage ahead of their final group fixture against Durham at Emerald Headingley on Monday.
It was poor, below average. It just about sums up our tournament, to be honest.Andrew Gale
Although not quite “the end of the world”, as the man in Worcester High Street averred, it was still a big blow to a club which had been confident of ending a run of 17 years without a one-day trophy.
But after winning the toss on a slow, used pitch, Worcestershire scored 293-7 from their 50 overs, Yorkshire managing only 143 in reply to slip to a third defeat in seven group games to go with two victories and two ties.
“It was poor, below average,” admitted Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first-team coach. “It just about sums up our tournament, to be honest. We couldn’t do the good things for long enough. I thought we did well early in the game and Worcester played well to their credit.
“But with the bat we were below-par and I’m just as frustrated as all the lads; we’re all down.”
Gale plans to shake things up for the Durham match with qualification now out of his side’s reach.
“I’m going to play some kids,” he said. “They deserve a chance.
“Some of the young lads have done well in the second team in the last couple of weeks and are chomping at the bit, but because we’ve had a chance of qualification we haven’t managed to get them into the team.
“It’s exciting that we’ll see some fresh faces, and hopefully a few of them can put their hands up.”
On a windy and generally sunny day, albeit a cold one whenever the sun disappeared behind cloud, Yorkshire made an excellent start.
The hosts plunged to 62-4 inside 16 overs, captain Steve Patterson capturing three of the wickets in an excellent opening burst that yielded 16 runs.
The other wicket went to Tim Bresnan, who replaced Matt Waite in the only change to the team that won at Northants on Wednesday, the former England man also bowling well on a day when he conceded 39 from his 10-over allocation.
But Worcestershire, who were without batsman Daryl Mitchell with a back injury, rallied in a manner which might have surprised even the most optimistic and partisan home supporters in a crowd of around 1,800.
The architects of their recovery were George Rhodes and Ben Cox, who shared a Worcestershire record fifth-wicket one-day stand of 169 in 28 overs.
It was Worcestershire’s highest partnership for any wicket against Yorkshire in one-day cricket, Rhodes top-scoring with 106 – his maiden century in first-team cricket – and Cox contributing 87.
Rhodes, the 25-year-old son of former Yorkshire and Worcestershire wicketkeeper Steve, faced 111 balls and hit nine fours and two sixes – one launched over long-on off leg-spinner Josh Poysden, the other crunched over mid-wicket off Patterson.
Cox, the 27-year-old wicketkeeper, faced 86 balls and hit 12 fours, including four off successive balls from pace bowler Mat Pillans, a sequence interrupted by a wide.
Yorkshire’s bowling was a mixed affair; even Patterson conceded 23 from his last over, which included a leg-bye, after his previous eight overs went for 22.
But Rhodes and Cox were excellent, seizing on anything short or wide to dig their team out of a hole.
Finally, Cox slapped Patterson to long-on and Rhodes fell to the final ball of the innings, bowled around his legs by Pillans.
Having been 100-4 at halfway, Worcestershire nearly trebled their total and were even pegged back a touch towards the end.
Yorkshire’s innings was soon in distress, South African left-armer Wayne Parnell reducing them to 67-3.
Ed Barnard, the 23-year-old right-hander, nipped in with the next three wickets and Brett D’Oliveira, the 27-year-leg-spinner, the next two.
Parnell then returned to capture the final two wickets with successive deliveries to finish with 5-25 from seven overs.
Yorkshire lost all 10 wickets for 97 runs including the last seven for 59, their hopes of one-day silverware over for another year.