TO borrow an age-old footballing cliche, Yorkshire’s cricketers can now concentrate on the league.
Defeat by 31 runs to Durham in the quarter-final of the Royal London Cup leaves only the County Championship to play for, a competition Yorkshire lead by six points with three games to play.
Having failed to reach the knockout stages of the T20 Blast, despite having signed the world’s best T20 batsman in Aaron Finch, Yorkshire were keen to make waves in the 50-over tournament.
But having looked odds-on for victory at 133-2 in the 30th over in reply to Durham’s 237 all-out, Yorkshire collapsed to 206 all-out, despite 61 from England’s Gary Ballance.
For Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first-team coach, the match had unmistakable echoes of the T20 meeting between the sides at Headingley last month.
On that occasion, Yorkshire had been 47-1 chasing 124 only to collapse to 95 all-out, a performance he branded “unacceptable”.
The Australian was no less candid about this display, which shattered Yorkshire’s hopes of achieving the “double”.
Once again, he conceded that Yorkshire’s batting was simply not good enough, with three of the top-six getting ducks and only Ballance and Alex Lees (49) posting scores of any real significance.
“It was a very gettable total and we let ourselves down,” said Gillespie, whose side return to action on Sunday in the Championship against Lancashire at Old Trafford. “We got a fairly decent start but when three of your top-six get globes, and you have lads who get starts but don’t go on, you’re not going to win many games of cricket.
“We really needed someone to go and get a significant 80-plus score, but that didn’t happen.
“You can’t rely on numbers nine and ten to get the job done, and the top-six, in my view, must take responsibility.”
Gillespie said there were some honest conversations afterwards in the dressing room.
“The lads had a good chat and although it’s easy for me to talk and rant and rave, that really doesn’t achieve much,” he added.
“We need to be better, simple as that.”
After Yorkshire won the toss on a sunny, sultry morning, Durham had reached 8-0 off three overs when the match was suspended for 30 minutes due to a tragic situation.
An elderly Yorkshire member suffered a heart attack in front of the Carnegie Pavilion and, despite the best efforts of paramedics to save him, sadly died.
When play resumed in an understandably subdued atmosphere, the Durham opening batsmen Phil Mustard and Mark Stoneman prospered against some indifferent bowling before Yorkshire gradually settled.
The visitors were 57 in the 15th over when the first wicket fell, Mustard top-edging an attempted reverse-sweep off Adil Rashid to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Calum MacLeod went shortly afterwards, bowled as he tried to drive Steve Patterson, who did a sterling job of stemming the scoring rate. The pace bowler conceded only eight runs from his first six overs on his way to final figures of 3-39. Stoneman was splendid, picking off the bad balls and repelling the good, and reached his fifty from 63 deliveries.
He lost his third-wicket partner, Scott Borthwick, with the score on 98 at the halfway stage, well caught by a tumbling Tim Bresnan off Rashid.
Stoneman collected three fours in an over off Jack Brooks and found a fine ally in Paul Collingwood, with whom he added 80 in 15 overs before both men fell in consecutive overs.
Moments after reaching a 117-ball hundred, Stoneman spooned Pyrah to deep square-leg before Collingwood pulled a long hop from Brooks to deep mid-wicket, Ballance taking both catches to leave Durham 182-5 in the 41st.
Yorkshire finished on a high, Pyrah and Patterson sharing the last five wickets as Durham lost 7-59 from Stoneman’s departure.
Yorkshire began well in reply, Adam Lyth and Lees adding 58 inside 10 overs before Lyth and Kane Williamson were caught behind off successive balls.
Durham’s catching was ropey but it hardly mattered as Yorkshire lost 3-5 in 17 deliveries from the apparent comfort of 133-2, Bairstow and Andrew Gale also registering ducks.
Collingwood, John Hastings and Chris Rushworth took regular wickets as the chase faltered, with only Ballance threatening a Yorkshire win.
Pyrah threw his bat for an unbeaten 29, but Yorkshire’s goose was already cooked.
Yorkshire have awarded Matthew Fisher, the 16-year-old pace bowler, his second XI cap.