THE EQUATION is simple: beat Notts at Emerald Headingley tonight and Yorkshire are through to the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast.
That much is clear after they thumped bottom club Northants by seven wickets with 4.3 overs to spare, rising to fourth in the table, level on points with fifth-placed Notts, but with a superior run-rate ahead of the final night of North Group action.
If the match at Headingley is tied or a no-result, Birmingham Bears could draw level on points with Yorkshire and Notts by defeating Worcestershire at Edgbaston, at which point it would all come down to net-run-rate.
But it is in Yorkshire’s hands as they look to clinch the only remaining qualifying place, with Durham, Lancashire and Worcestershire having already gone through, as Yorkshire look to secure a quarter-final that would be away from home to the South Group winners.
Against a Northants side who had lost 10 out of 12 going into this match, Yorkshire were predictably far too strong, despite conceding 162-8 after losing the toss as Josh Cobb struck an unbeaten 68 from 39 balls with four fours and five sixes – the only significant innings for the hosts.
It at least represented a competitive total from a Northants team whose solitary win – to go with one tie – had come away to Derbyshire, but it was made to look distinctly ordinary as Yorkshire cruised home courtesy of their greatest strength, namely, a top-three batting line-up that comprises the prodigious talents of openers Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore plus acting captain David Willey, who continues to deputise in that role for the injured Steve Patterson.
Despite Kohler-Cadmore falling to the fourth delivery of the Yorkshire reply, caught at point for a golden duck, Lyth and Willey filled their boots, adding 150 for the second-wicket in 13.2 overs, thereby creating a new record for Yorkshire’s highest partnership in T20, previously the unbeaten 137 – also for the second wicket – by current Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale and the South African Herschelle Gibbs against Durham at Headingley in 2010.
Willey top-scored with 79 from 44 balls with seven sixes and four fours – to follow his side’s best figures of 3-30 from four overs which included the remarkable feat of a triple-wicket maiden in the penultimate over – and Lyth struck 66 from 41 deliveries with five fours and three sixes, the pair utterly dismantling an attack whose bowling figures were not fit for viewing prior to the 9pm watershed.
Northants had started the game well enough, Yorkshire target Ben Duckett and Charlie Thurston taking their side to 31-0 after four overs, but two wickets and only two runs in the fifth over, Matthew Fisher’s first, halted that progress as Thurston was well caught at third man off the first delivery by Kane Williamson and Duckett held at point by Lyth off a leading edge off the final ball.
Northants were 35-2 at the end of the six-over powerplay – Yorkshire were 70-1 at the end of theirs – and although Tim Bresnan conceded 18 off his opening over (and 42 from three), Liam Plunkett, back from a hip injury, also took two wickets and Jack Brooks one.
Plunkett had Alex Wakely caught at mid-off by Bresnan, who put down Thurston in the first over off Willey running back to mid-on, and Plunkett struck again in his final over when Steve Crook, after clubbing a brace of sixes, fell to a fine running catch by Fisher on the cover boundary.
Brooks bowled Seekkuge Prasanna before Willey’s remarkable burst in the 19th over, the England man taking three wickets in four balls as Luke Procter was caught behind and Graeme White taken at deep square-leg off successive deliveries before Brett Hutton was also caught behind.
Only Cobb’s innings, full of muscular leg-side strokes, ensured that Yorkshire had any sort of target to chase, and Willey and Lyth were no less brutal as their blitz left Yorkshire with a run-rate that is improbably just 0.005 of a run better than that of Notts.
Both men fell in successive balls, Lyth caught in the covers and Willey at deep mid-wicket before Gary Ballance completed the formalities.