NEVER mind Hurricane Bertha. What about Cyclone Jack?
Twenty-four hours after the remnants of Bertha had done their worst, bringing rain and ruin to all parts of Britain, Jack Leaning whipped up a storm of his own with a whirlwind innings at North Marine Road.
The 20-year-old Yorkshire batsman struck an unbeaten 111 from 99 balls with four fours and four sixes, his maiden century for the county.
It helped Yorkshire to 290-6 after they were sent into bat, but it was not enough to blow away Essex, who won by five wickets with 25 balls to spare as Ryan ten Doeschate (119) and Tom Westley (111 not out) left their own trail of destruction, adding 209 for the fifth-wicket in 31 overs.
Yorkshire, who remain top of Group A, need one more victory from their last two games to guarantee a quarter-final place.
They play Derbyshire at Scarborough tomorrow (10.30am start) and finish their group campaign against Hampshire at Southampton on Thursday week.
It is possible Yorkshire could qualify without winning either match, although not a route they would want to navigate.
Leaning’s hundred, which delighted a 3,200 crowd, was full of powerful pulls and destructive drives and a memorable milestone for the 20-year-old.
“It was a great feeling to get my first hundred – something I’ll never forget,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t win, but it’s nice to be off the mark as it were from a personal point of view.”
Leaning reached his century with a neat leg-side pick-up off Graham Napier in the final over that just cleared a leaping Greg Smith on the boundary in front of the Popular Bank.
“I thought I’d picked him out,” laughed Leaning, who fell for 99 in the County Championship game against Sussex at Arundel in June, before adding that it was “a bit of a relief to see the ball just creep over” aided by “a nice gust of wind”.
That Leaning was able to celebrate his maiden three-figure score was due in no small part to John Dodds, the Scarborough groundsman.
The previous day, North Marine Road was almost completely under water as the remains of Hurricane Bertha did their worst, and there seemed no hope whatsoever of the game being played.
But Dodds, who admitted he had written it off as a washout, said in his own words that he managed to “spike the drain runs and from there it was just like emptying a bath”.
Helped by the arrival of sunshine and a gale-force wind, he not only got the game on but got it on for the 10.30 start, a remarkable effort.
The pitch, which was understandably a little bit slower than Dodds would have wished, did not prevent Adam Lyth from taking two early fours and then a pulled six off Napier.
Essex hit back when David Masters bowled Alex Lees in the sixth over and then had Kane Williamson caught behind from a wide-ish delivery in the 10th, but Yorkshire looked reasonably comfortable until Lyth was run-out with the score on 55 in the 15th over.
Andrew Gale pushed a delivery from Reece Topley into the covers and Lyth was run-out by a direct hit from Kishen Velani, ending a run-a-ball 38. As Essex squeezed and Yorkshire rebuilt, the home team did not hit a boundary for 11 overs, something that cost them in the final analysis.
Gale and Leaning added 70 in 16 overs before Gale slapped a ball from ten Doeschate to Tim Phillips at backward-point, the captain scoring 45 from 72 balls with two fours and a six.
When Adil Rashid hit Masters to Mark Pettini at mid-off, Yorkshire were 154-5 in the 36th over and some way short of the type of total they were seeking.
But valuable impetus was injected by Leaning and Andrew Hodd, who added 109 in 13 overs before Hodd was bowled for 42 by Masters, who ended with 4-34.
Yorkshire smashed 114 off the last 10 overs, 23 of them coming from the last over from Napier, who finished with 0-84.
Essex’s reply began egregiously when they crashed to 15-3 inside six overs.
Jack Brooks had Pettini caught behind before Tim Bresnan had Smith held by Williamson at mid-off and then trapped Velani lbw.
Jesse Ryder, the swashbuckling New Zealander, hit four fours in five balls and a six over long-on off Rich Pyrah that struck the pavilion roof.
But Pyrah had his revenge when Ryder slashed to Lyth at point, having made 36 from 27 balls, and Westley and ten Doeschate took the game away with something approaching comfort before ten Doeschate fell at the death to a catch at short fine-leg.
Yorkshire women play their Lancashire counterparts at Scarborough today in a 50-overs-a-side game starting at 11am. Admission is free.