WHAT is it about David Willey and T20 quarter-finals?
Almost a year to the day since he fired Northants to Finals Day with a 40-ball hundred against Sussex at Hove, Willey blasted Yorkshire to their second Finals Day appearance on a one-sided night in South Wales.
The England all-rounder struck 79 from 38 balls with seven fours and six sixes as Yorkshire scored 180-8 after winning the toss, Glamorgan replying with 90 all-out, their lowest T20 score.
Yorkshire will play Durham in the semi-final at Edgbaston tomorrow week, with Notts and Northants meeting in the other tie.
It represents a clean sweep of semi-finalists from the North Group, and it was Yorkshire’s seventh win in eight T20 games after they had been bottom of the group at the halfway stage.
“We’ve done well in the second half of the competition,” said Willey, “and it’s all credit to the lads.
“It was nice to make a contribution in this match, and I really enjoy playing on the big stage.”
Before a partisan crowd of 10,087, albeit with a good number of Yorkshire voices making themselves heard, the visitors were predictably much too powerful.
Yorkshire should have lost Adam Lyth to the fifth ball of the match when he spooned Timm van der Gugten to mid-on, where Glamorgan captain and former Yorkshire batsman Jacques Rudolph dropped the easiest catch of his life, but Willey got them going with successive boundaries off Graham Wagg in the second over and then three on the bounce in the next over from Michael Hogan.
Willey, whose previous best T20 score for Yorkshire was 74 against Northants, loves the big occasion, and he almost achieved the difficult task of silencing a Welsh crowd.
The crowd’s spirits were lifted in the fourth over, however, when Rudolph made amends for his earlier reprieve of Lyth when he held a tougher – although still straightforward – opportunity at mid-off when the left-hander drove Shaun Tait.
Tait failed to capitalise as he conceded 22 from his next over, including three fours and a six by Alex Lees as the visitors ended the six-over powerplay on 61-1.
Lees and Willey took the game away from Glamorgan during a second-wicket stand of 74 in 6.3 overs, ended when Lees lofted Wagg to Hogan at long-off after striking 36 from 24.
Willey, having reached his half-century from 28 balls, responded by hammering a back-foot six off Wagg over long-off and then pulling Colin Ingram over the mid-wicket rope.
But Ingram, the South African whose 486 runs at 44 propelled Glamorgan into the knockout stages, shone in his secondary suit as leg-spinner as Yorkshire’s innings lost momentum.
Ingram bowled Willey with the final ball of the 12th over, after which Yorkshire scored 45-5 in the last eight overs with four boundaries.
Ingram bowled Jack Leaning with one that turned sharply, and then he trapped Will Rhodes lbw sweeping..
Rhodes, the 21-year-old all-rounder, is to join Division Two leaders Essex on loan for the rest of the County Championship season, with his four-day opportunities having proved limited.
As Glamorgan fought back, Ingram claimed his fourth wicket on his way to a T20 career-best 4-32 when Liam Plunkett was caught at long-off.
Ingram then held a catch at third-man when Tim Bresnan uppercut van der Gugten, who had Adil Rashid caught at long-on to finish with 2-22.
Despite the limp finish to their innings, Yorkshire’s score looked like a winning one and Glamorgan’s reply began calamitously.
David Lloyd chopped on the first ball of the innings from Bresnan, who had Mark Wallace caught at cover in his next over.
Willey bowled Aneurin Donald swinging across the line before Matthew Waite, the 20-year-old Leeds-born all-rounder who came into the team in place of Travis Head, snaffled the key wicket of Ingram, caught at third man by Rhodes as he sliced an attempted shot through mid-wicket.
It was Waite’s first wicket for the Yorkshire first XI on his fifth limited-overs appearance, and it effectively ended Glamorgan’s hopes. The home side were completely dead in the water at 34-5 when Plunkett yorked Wagg with the final ball of the six-over powerplay.
Plunkett then took an athletic catch when Craig Meschede slapped Rashid to long-on, and there were ironic cheers when Andrew Salter lofted Rashid for a straight six, the cue for the PA system to blast out Tom Jones’s Delilah. It was a case of “Why, why, why?” when Salter came down the pitch in Rashid’s next over, completely missed a straight delivery and was bowled, leaving Glamorgan 65-7.
Rudolph lofted Azeem Rafiq to deep mid-off, where Lyth took a good tumbling catch, and Rashid finished things by having van der Gugten caught at deep square-leg and then bowling Hogan, ending with 4-26 from his three overs.