Impressive Yorkshire reach last eight
Yorkshire 150 for 4 (Jaques 58*) beat Nottinghamshire 148 for 6 (Voges 70) by six wickets
Yorkshire's coach Jason Gillespie would no doubt jump on such talk as unwisely premature but the county's reinvention as a force in Twenty20 is beginning to look like a credible story. Against a Nottinghamshire side who had made themselves strong favourites to finish top of the North Group in this year's FriendsLife t20, they won their sixth match from seven completed and did so comfortably.
In a match mercifully spared any rain, Yorkshire won by six wickets with 14 balls to spare after Notts had finished with a total that always looked below par despite 70 from Adam Voges. Where the home side failed to provide meaningful support to a fine innings from their captain, Yorkshire came up with what was required to build around an unbeaten 58 in 47 balls from another Australian, the opener Phil Jaques, who survived one chance on 38 but was otherwise flawless.
Adam Lyth (33 off 21 balls) and Joe Root (27 off 16) supplied the thrust that took Yorkshire to 99 in the 12th over before they lost a second wicket and although the cheap dismissals of the middle-order danger men, Jonny Bairstow and David Miller, gave Notts a glimmer of hope of pulling off an unlikely victory, Gary Ballance snuffed it out with 26 off 13 deliveries, ending the contest with two sixes in a row off the left-arm spinner, Graeme White.
The victory guaranteed Yorkshire's place in the quarterfinals irrespective of what happens in their last two group matches, against Lancashire at Old Trafford on Friday evening and at home to Derbyshire on Sunday. Nottinghamshire, who take on Derbyshire in Derby on Friday and wrap up against Leicestershire at home, need only to win one of those to clinch their place in the last eight, although Yorkshire now look likelier to top the group.
Yorkshire have never qualified for finals day and this is their first time past the group stage since 2007. They are well placed, too, in their bid to secure a quick return to the First Division when the Championship resumes next week, which suggests the winter shake-up that saw Gillespie and Paul Farbrace recruited to a management team headed by Martyn Moxon was worth the upheaval.
The fresh thinking introduced by the new faces brought instant results as Yorkshire won a pre-season t20 tournament against strong opposition in Barbados and Gillespie has clearly done a very effective job in harnessing the confidence acquired there. With the valuable addition to their armoury of Gillespie's compatriot, the left-arm quick Mitchell Starc -- the competition's leading wicket-taker with 16 -- Yorkshire's bowling now has an edge to it that was previously missing, while Farbrace has been credited with much-improved displays in the field.
Given the threat of thunderstorms, and the possibility of a Duckworth-Lewis target similar to the one that left them chasing 42 in four overs after a long stoppage against Lancashire on Tuesday, Notts might have considered bowling first a reasonable option when the coin fell in Chris Read's favour.
He might have wished he had when Riki Wessels pulled the opening ball of the innings, delivered by the part-time off-spinner Joe Root, straight to Rich Pyrah at midwicket. or a Notts batting line-up missing their star turn after Alex Hales failed a fitness test on a thigh injury, it was a poor start from which they were slow to recover.
The first two overs yielded only two runs. Indeed the powerplay overs were a stop-start affair, Notts scoring 31 from two of them -- 16 from Iain Wardlaw's first over, 15 from Root's second -- but only eight from the other four as Mitchell Starc, the Australian seamer, demonstrated again what a valuable signing he has been by conceding six from his first two overs and Pyrah began his contribution by claiming the significant wicket of Michael Lumb with his first ball as the former Yorkshire batsman top-edged a fulsome off-drive. After Hales, Notts see Lumb as their most destructive batsman.
Pyrah, disciplined and accurate and offering little in the way of pace, bowled through at a restrictive five an over and Notts, looking to hurry things along more at the other end, lost both Samit Patel and James Taylor cheaply, which only added to the suspicion that this was a disappointing effort.
Voges held things together superbly until Starc uprooted his middle stump with the first ball of the last over but no one provided the substantial support he required. It was the Western Australian's 10th half-century in this format but from 57 balls a relatively measured effort but needed some effective bashing at the other end to give it added value.
Where Notts lost a wicket to Yorkshire's first ball, their opponents began with Lyth stroking two boundaries off White, bowling for the first time in this year's competition, and those two deliveries set the tone for the innings.
After Lyth had pulled Darren Pattinson over midwicket for six, Yorkshire were 46 without loss at the end of the powerplay and though they lost Lyth in the seventh over they were in sight of the winning line with only half the overs completed after Andy Carter went for 19 in the 10th over, Jacques taking 11 off him with six over square leg and Root, well into his stride, hitting eight.
Root was out when he drove Patel to Voges at extra cover and Jaques, on 38, was dropped by Mullaney at deep square leg off White when he top-edged a pull. Given that Bairstow, smartly stumped by Read, and Miller, caught on the ropes sweeping Voges's left-arm spin, were both then out in quick succession, it might have been a significant moment. But, all things considered, probably not.