Youthful Yorkshire wrap up season with a last-ball victory over Derbyshire
THE SUN came out for Yorkshire’s final match of the season, peeking its head through a patchwork of clouds.
It waxed and waned for most of the afternoon, a fitting metaphor for Yorkshire’s T20 summer, one that flitted between the good, the bad and the sometimes indifferent.
Yorkshire have never quite cracked this format of cricket, and the quest to do so continues apace.
At least it can be said that the gods of fortune conspired against them this time; having been well-placed to qualify at the halfway stage, they were singularly unfortunate to lose three key bowlers and an opening batsman due to Covid-19.
Not many clubs could reasonably withstand the loss of such central components as David Willey, who tested positive for coronavirus last week, and Matt Fisher, Josh Poysden and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, with whom Willey had come into contact socially.
It was to their credit, therefore, that a largely young and inexperienced Yorkshire side signed off with a win to end a dispiriting sequence of four straight defeats, beating Derbyshire by six wickets off the final delivery.
After Derbyshire made 167-6 after choosing to bat, Tom Wood top-scoring with 67 and captain Billy Godleman contributing 49, Joe Root and Harry Brook were Yorkshire’s heroes, adding an unbroken 91 in 8.2 overs after the hosts slid to 80-4 in the 12th over.
Root top-scored with 60 from 50 balls with six fours and a six, his fourth half-century in five T20 matches this season, and Brook provided much-needed impetus with 50 from 29 balls with five fours and a six, his maiden T20 half-century reached with a match-clinching four over long-on off pace bowler Dustin Melton.
“I’m happy to finally get a fifty in T20 cricket,” said Brook, the 21-year-old right-hander whose form was one of the highlights of Yorkshire’s red-ball campaign.
“It’s taken a few games but it’s good to contribute to a win and to get a good partnership with Rooty at the end.
“He is obviously one of the world’s best and has probably been in that situation quite a lot of times before, and he brings a lot of calmness.
“We haven’t been the best side at chasing over the last couple of years, so to contribute and get a not out as well is really nice, and hopefully I can improve some more in the winter and go on and do better things next year.”
For this final hurrah of 2020, Yorkshire made two changes to the side that lost in Lancashire on Thursday, a result that took the hosts into the quarter-finals and ended Yorkshire’s hopes of reaching them too.
Ben Birkhead replaced Jonny Tattersall behind the stumps, and pace bowler Ben Coad came in for off-spinner Jack Shutt, Coad going on to return Yorkshire’s best figures of 3-40 from four overs, his best in T20.
That represented a good fightback by Coad, who conceded 20 runs from his second over, the third of the innings, including a scooped six by Wood towards the Emerald Stand.
Derbyshire were 48-0 at the end of the six-over powerplay and 80-0 at the halfway stage, Wood reaching a fine half-century from 31 balls with his second six - a powerful leg-side blow off Root.
Root bowled nicely and was Yorkshire’s most economical bowler with 1-28 from his four overs. The England Test captain brought energy and expertise to the T20 summer, and Root it was who broke the Wood/Godleman opening partnership at 109 in the 14th over - Derbyshire’s highest for the first wicket in T20 against Yorkshire - when Godleman pulled a short ball around the corner to Duanne Olivier, who gratefully grabbed it at the second attempt.
Thereafter, Derbyshire’s innings ran out of steam as wickets fell steadily in the closing overs, the main fact that cost them.
Wood pulled Coad down Jordan Thompson’s throat at deep mid-wicket; Thompson had a swinging Leus du Plooy caught behind by Birkhead; Coad removed Wayne Madsen with the aid of a smart, leaping catch by Adam Lyth at mid-off - and then had Matt Critchley skying to Root at cover; and Olivier had Alex Hughes caught by Will Fraine at deep square-leg.
Yorkshire lost Lyth and Dawid Malan in the space of three balls in the third over, the former skying Sam Conners to the wicketkeeper and the latter edging him behind, and the hosts fell to 41-3 in the sixth when Will Fraine flicked Melton to mid-wicket, where Wood took a good catch diving forward.
Thompson biffed 26 from 20 balls including a huge six off leg-spinner Matt Critchley into the back row of the upper tier of the North East Stand, but the game seemed to have swung Derbyshire’s way when he was caught at long-off by Melton off Hughes.
Root and Brook refused to give in, Root clubbing Luis Reece for six over long-on in an over that cost 20, and Brook bashing Melton for six over long-off.
It came down to nine required off the final over, and Brook held his nerve to finish the job.
“Obviously we didn’t want to go away with another loss, so it was a good finish to the competition for us,” he said.
“We’ve been inconsistent in batting and bowling, but it’s been a year in which some of us have gained valuable experience, myself included.”
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James Mitchinson - Editor