Northants v Yorkshire: Gibbs ton in vain as last-ball tie denies Yorkshire

Friends provident twenty20: FROM the moment he arrived at the crease in the game's third over, Herschelle Gibbs looked like a man on a collision course with a century.

The South African had an air of absolute authority, as though it was somehow inevitable he would reach three-figures.

There was nothing in his statistical history to suggest he would get there.

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In 94 Twenty20 games prior to yesterday, Gibbs had never before made a hundred and had only passed fifty on 15 occasions.

His highest Twenty20 score for Yorkshire was 76 not out and he had not really sparkled since joining the club, producing consistently steady rather than spectacular contributions.

But after announcing himself with a cover-driven six off Andrew Hall, which dispersed a queue of spectators at the delightfully named "Fat Pig" refreshment stall, Gibbs was imperious and inspired.

He hit an unbeaten 101 in Yorkshire's 180-3, reaching his century from 52 balls and striking five sixes and eight fours in a memorable display.

It was Yorkshire's third Twenty20 hundred after Ian Harvey made 109 against Derbyshire at Headingley in 2005 and 108 not out against Lancashire on the same ground in 2004.

Sadly for Yorkshire, it was not sufficient to propel them to a victory that Gibbs's performance so richly merited.

In an extraordinary finish, and with Northamptonshire needing an apparently notional 13 to win off the last ball, Richard Pyrah bowled a no-ball that was hit for a leg-side six by Nicky Boje that counted as eight runs to the total. From the extra delivery, Boje drove for four through mid-on as Northamptonshire closed on 180-5 to clinch a dramatic tie.

Pyrah slumped to his knees in despair as the Northamptonshire crowd celebrated in unrestrained fashion.

After Yorkshire won the toss on a sunny, sultry evening, Adam Lyth fell in the third over when he skied Chaminda Vaas to cover. On a bare-coloured pitch offering pace and bounce, Gibbs was able to strike confidently through the line of the ball, which he did with frequency and aplomb. Former Yorkshire off-spinner James Middlebrook was battered for a straight four and a six over long-on before Hall was viciously pulled through mid-wicket from well outside off-stump. But Jacques Rudolph and Anthony McGrath failed to get past the teens, the former chipping left-arm spinner Nicky Boje to mid-on, the latter swinging the medium-pace of Lee Daggett to long-on.

Gibbs, however, ploughed on remorselessly and found a willing ally in Jonathan Bairstow, with whom he added an unbroken 73 for the fourth-wicket in the last five overs. Gibbs showed his prodigious strength by striking Daggett for a huge six over mid-wicket which thudded against the generator used to power the floodlights.

But Bairstow also whacks a prodigious long ball, the young man hammering Vaas for six over mid-wicket before cover-driving his next delivery for another maximum on his way to an undefeated 32 from just 14 deliveries.

Gibbs had 90 going into the final over but, aided by selfless running from Bairstow, was able to retain the strike to eclipse his previous Twenty20 best of 98.

Northamptonshire made a sizzling start in reply, thrashing 65-0 in the six overs of power play whereas Yorkshire had managed only 38-1. Vaas and David Sales took 14 off Tino Best's first over, the openers adding 101 before Sales fell in the 12th over, caught behind off Best.

Vaas hit 53 and Niall O'Brien a rapid 26, the latter one of two wickets to fall to McGrath in the penultimate over which appeared to have settled the issue. But with 18 wanted off the last over, Boje broke Yorkshire's hearts.