IF THERE was one box that needed ticking after the first few weeks of Yorkshire’s season, it was a sizeable innings from Harry Brook.
The 20-year-old was the only batsman to miss out in the first three games of the first-class campaign, scoring 54 runs in four innings.
But he put that right at Headingley yesterday, striking 103, his first one-day hundred, as Yorkshire thrashed Leicestershire by 213 runs.
Throw in the customary century from Gary Ballance (his third in successive innings, a career-best one-day effort of 156) and Yorkshire’s 379-7 proved too good for opponents who folded for 166, pace bowler Mat Pillans taking a career-best 5-29 on his Yorkshire one-day debut as the hosts began their 50-over season in ominous style.
Brook and Ballance’s innings were more remarkable for the fact that they came together with the score 17-3 after just 25 balls after Leicestershire surprisingly chose to bowl.
It looked a firm and true batting surface from the start, which would have annoyed Adam Lyth, David Willey and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who all fell in the frenetic opening to the 24-year-old medium-fast bowler Tom Taylor – the first two players to catches at first slip, the latter lbw.
By the time that Brook and Ballance had transformed the match situation in glorious sunshine, watched by an appreciative crowd of 2,877, their stand had realised 211 in 34 overs, a Yorkshire fourth-wicket one-day record, eclipsing the 207 by Simon Kellett and Craig White against Ireland at Headingley in 1995.
Throw in a brutal 24-ball half-century from wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall, a player increasingly growing in stature, and Yorkshire incredibly finished up with the highest List A total made at the ground, beating Worcestershire’s 350-6 last summer, and in the process equalled their highest one-day score against a first-class county – against Lancashire at Old Trafford also last year.
Brook, whose innings comprised 105 balls and included 14 fours, reflected: “It was a very good day for us. Obviously, we didn’t start very well as a batting unit, but me and Gaz tried our hardest to build a big partnership and Tatts played really nicely at the end, while the bowling was outstanding and ruthless.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything that had gone before; I just went out and tried to do my business for the team.
“Hopefully I can go on and get a few more hundreds, and we’ve had a really good start to the season overall.”
Throughout their stand, Brook and Ballance kept pace with each other, both striking powerfully all around the ground.
They made it look easy at times, not least when Brook showed terrific wrist-work and Ballance bashed boundaries for fun towards the end of his innings – including six sixes to go with 15 fours, his score beating his previous one-day best of 152 not out against Northants at Wantage Road two years ago.
Before he fell to the penultimate ball of the 46th over, caught on the cover boundary to end a stand of 101 with Tattersall from just 45 balls, Ballance was motoring along to the extent that one wondered whether he might even surpass Darren Lehmann’s Yorkshire record one-day innings of 191 against Notts at Scarborough in 2001.
It might not be long before that record goes, given the modern rate of scoring, which made yesterday’s fireworks feel almost run-of-the-mill, with Brook also having designs on a huge innings before he mistimed a pull off spinner Aadil Ali and was caught at the wicket.
Assisted by Tattersall, who edged behind an attempted pull in the final over, Yorkshire’s acceleration was such that they thrashed 142 in the last 10 overs.
Ballance, who survived a missed stumping on 81, struck fast-medium bowler Will Davis for three successive sixes at one stage in an innings that spanned just 133 balls.
Only once have Yorkshire made a higher one-day score – 411-6 against minor county Devon at Exmouth in 2004. Tim Bresnan is the sole survivor from that match, one of five men making their first appearance of the season for Yorkshire yesterday along with Willey, Pillans, Adil Rashid and Josh Poysden.
Willey, named in England’s preliminary 15-man World Cup squad yesterday, celebrated by taking the first two wickets of the Leicestershire reply, bowling Harry Dearden with the third ball and having Arron Lilley caught at mid-on in the seventh over.
Kohler-Cadmore picked out a fine diving catch at cover to remove Paul Horton off Steve Patterson, leg-spinner Poysden then taking a wicket with his first ball at Headingley for Yorkshire, trapping Mark Cosgrove lbw for the top score of 42.
As the required rate climbed to mocking proportions, Pillans took maximum advantage, cleaning up the middle-order/tail as Leicestershire lost their last seven wickets for 58 runs, Yorkshire’s victory their second-highest in one-day cricket by a runs margin behind their 242-run triumph against Lancashire at Old Trafford in 2016.