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August 28, 2014
Durham 237 (Stoneman 102, Pyrah 4-51) beat Yorkshire 206 (Ballance 61, Rushworth 3-23) by 31 runs
If Yorkshire will rue their elimination from the Royal London Cup, comfortably beaten by Durham despite home advantage in this quarter final, they will be even more anguished at the damaging effect it could have on their Championship challenge as they head into the Roses match at Old Trafford on Sunday.
It will take the appearance of their oldest foes to clear their heads as their season reaches a critical point. There were times in this tie when they looked a soft touch, but for their coach, Jason Gillespie, it was a time to protect optimism for all he was worth. "You don't want to be dwelling on the negatives all the time," he said. "If you do that you just get yourself down. At the end of the day, it's a game of cricket."
No county has waited longer for some sort of trophy than Yorkshire, whose last silverware came in the C&G Trophy in 2002 when their captain Andrew Gale was watching in the stands. It can be dismissed as a freakish statistic, but it is a statistic nevertheless. Gale is desperate for Yorkshire to win something - anything - under his leadership, but there was much in this 31-run defeat which invited the suspicion of a side running out of momentum at precisely the wrong time.
Even the bonus presence of Gary Ballance, who was temporarily released from England's ODI squad, could not stem their collapse in pursuit of a testing but far from impossible target of 238. Ballance took time to bed in, and made 61 from 89 balls in his usual level-headed fashion.
In personal terms he will be all the better for it as he heads back to national duty, but those qualities were lacking elsewhere as Yorkshire, who had eight wickets and more than 20 overs in hand to make the last 104, proved weak of spirit.
Durham make a habit of exposing Yorkshire's innermost doubts. They proved much the stronger at Scarborough last season in a pivotal match which saw them go on to take the Championship and their victory also ended Yorkshire's ambitions to reach the quarter finals in this season's NatWest Blast. There is something about these raiders from the north that Yorkshire cannot handle.
Durham had their own hero. Mark Stoneman's 102 from 120 balls was an admirable sure-footed century on a slowish, gripping surface where few other batsmen prospered. Much of Durham's reliable work comes these days from Stoneman, who might never quite attract the interest of the England selectors, but whose first hundred as Durham's one-day captain confirmed good impressions yet again.
"It was disappointing not to be there at the end. Myself and Colly were set and we were looking for something like 260," he said. "We probably got a par score but from the basis we had we could have been looking at a lot more."
The thrills, though, were in the chase - which, Ballance apart, was for the most part a maladroit affair. Ballance certainly observed some nonsense when stood at the non-striker's end. Yorkshire's middle order can be insubstantial when the pressure is on.
Jonny Bairstow, trying to run his second ball, and Gale, stumped as he lunged forward, completed a run of three ducks in the top six. Paul Collingwood's cutters went at less than three an over and Gareth Breese, who is retiring at the end of the season, was also allowed an easy pay day.
"When three of your top six get globes, and others don't go on after getting starts, you are going to struggle," said Gillespie. "Our top six have to take responsibility for that. We need to adapt to conditions better. We saw that pace off the ball was quite effective and we need to find ways to put pressure back on the bowlers."
Yorkshire succumbed despite an opening stand blessed with fortune - 58 in 10 overs - between Adam Lyth and Alex Lees. Chris Rushworth found the edge of both batsmen in successive balls - Lees on 6, Lyth on 7, only for the ball twice to elude Phil Mustard. If the first edge was a debatable chance, The Colonel would have expected to get across to the second.
Lyth's charmed life ended to an ambitious drive against Hastings, who then had Kane Williamson - the first of those three ducks - caught at the wicket first ball. He might have taken three wickets in his first seven balls had he held Ballance's tough return catch, offered before he had scored.
Adil Rashid's slog sweep during the Powerplay, into Collingwood's trap at deep midwicket, just added to the impression of Yorkshire playing unwise cricket, a fact that Richard Pyrah's desperate late hitting could not disguise.
Durham also collapsed, but it came a little later. They were 178 for 3 with more than 10 overs remaining before fading to 237. It was Pyrah who silenced Stoneman, Ballance holding a good low catch as he pulled to deep square leg, and the loss of Collingwood for 38 in the following over, was a further relief for Yorkshire.
Stoneman had ensured that Durham got a flyer and the figures of Yorkshire's new-ball pair reflected it: Tim Bresnan and Jack Brooks managed none for 97 in 18 overs between them, leaving the back-up pair of Steve Patterson and Pyrah, whose own figures tallied 6 for 88 in 19.4, bowled straight and led Yorkshire's challenge; Rashid also impressed.
Bresnan was an Ashes tourist nine months ago, but he is not winning cricket matches. Like Gale, he was in the stands when Yorkshire won their last trophy 12 years ago. Both confidently predicted that the double was on before this match. It is now a single. How confident they remain about the single they have yet to state.
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