Rashid, Rafiq snuff out Lancashire to claim Roses rights
Yorkshire 296 for 9 (Handscomb 86, Ballance 85, McLaren 3-43) beat Lancashire 217 (Rafiq 4-47) by 79 runs
Liam Livingstone first came to prominence in a Roses match almost a year ago when he flayed Yorkshire at Old Trafford in the NatWest Blast. If that was not enough to make Yorkshire wary, since then he has been tipped for great things, temporarily elevated to the Lancashire captaincy and presumably made more ravenous than ever by his exclusion from England's Champions Trophy squad.
Not just for Yorkshire, but for a partisan Headingley crowd, Livingstone has become the wicket most wanted. He looked in ominous mood in making 32 from 37 balls - although he would look more ominous in Lancashire red than sponsors' green - the boundary was cleared on two occasions, but then Adil Rashid found an excellent googly to bowl him off the inside edge. Another googly had brought about a similar end for Alex Davies and he generally caused uncertainty throughout.
Spin proved to be Yorkshire's route to a comfortable 79-run victory as Rashid and the offspinner Azeem Rafiq were at the top of their game on a surface offering them a little purchase, sharing six wickets, bowling with craft and competitive edge and ensuring that Yorkshire's 296 for 9 was never seriously challenged. Rafiq took 4 for 47 and it was an appropriate end when the pair combined for the final wicket.
Such composure was perhaps more than Yorkshire expected after a downbeat end to their innings. An excellent stand of 143 in 20 overs between Gary Ballance and Peter Handscomb gave them visions of 330 when they were 230 for 3 with more than 12 overs remaining but Steven Parry removed David Willey, Ballance and Rashid in the space of eight deliveries and as it was they scrambled what they could.
Yorkshire's director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, could not have been happier with the matchwinning alliance. "It was a fantastic display of batting because the conditions at that time were tricky with the lights on and dampness in the pitch," he said. "We still felt that 290 was a good score if we bowled well. And we certainly did."
Quite why there were only two Royal London Cup ties on a Bank Holiday must remain one of those mysteries in which English county cricket specialises. Whereas Roses T20s are sold out well in advance, a 50-over tie can pull in around 5000 with a host of England players involved and nobody looks too downbeat.
For Yorkshire's contingent, there was limited reward. Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root both got a start only to fall to Ryan McLaren, a Lancashire overseas player who might not thrill the popular side but who has brought grunts of satisfaction from the Old Trafford cognoscenti. Bairstow's 28 included successive pulled sixes off Tom Bailey before he inside-edged a drive to the wicketkeeper, Davies; Root also reached the 20s but then fell to a leaping cut to backward point.
The authority with which Ballance and Handscomb rebalanced Yorkshire's innings was impressive. The attention given to the occasional appearances of Root and Bairstow is understandable but such is the disruptive nature of England calls that to a large degree it is with Ballance and Handscomb that Yorkshire's season rests.
Handscomb's end was certainly eye-catching, a marked change in tempo bringing him 18 off four balls from Luke Procter, murderous intent apparent in every one of them, before another intemperate blow brought his downfall on the leg side.
Ballance has been in wonderful form this season, although this was a more robust contribution which required a few fortunate inside edges to keep it alive. Nevertheless, he seemed destined for a fourth hundred in seven knocks when Parry defeated his reverse sweep. Three botched pulls and a run-out ensured a humdrum end to Yorkshire's innings.
Lancashire's batting order will bring debate. Haseeb Hameed came in at No. 3 - having made 88 at opener three days ago - presumably in the hope of Procter providing a flying start and Livingstone was held back until No. 5, which seems a place too low for a player of his ambition to shape the game most effectively.
Livingstone did threaten, driving Liam Plunkett from the attack with two spectacular sixes but Rashid's googly ensured Yorkshire's second win and left Lancashire with two defeats and much to ponder.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps