Lancashire 311 for 6 (Croft 97, Jones 65, Bohannon 55*) beat Yorkshire 310 (Kohler-Cadmore 97, Ballance 72, Mahmood 3-76 ) by one run
Brian Sellers would not be happy. A Roses match was taking place at Headingley and somebody at Yorkshire had designated the occasion a Family Fun Day. Fun? At a Roses match? The former Yorkshire skipper and fearsome martinet would have regarded the emotion and the event as mutually exclusive. But not so the five thousand or so souls at Headingley this glorious afternoon after they had watched Lancashire edge this Royal London Cup game by one run. Even the Yorkshire fans? Yes, perhaps even them.
Home supporters will tell how they thought the game was won when, with 16 runs needed off the final over, Jonny Tattersall hit Saqib Mahmood's first two balls for four. They may then assure listeners they were certain matters were settled when Duanne Olivier crunched another boundary to leave their team needing three runs off two balls. But Mahmood kept his nerve - one day he might tell us how - and so did Lancashire's fielders. First Tattersall was run out for a noble 49 and then Josh Poysden failed to make his ground when scrambling for the second run that would have secured a tie. Yes, Brian, this was fun.
Yet so gripping were the game's final moments that much of the rest of the game is in danger of receding from view, as though we were seeing it through the wrong end of a telescope. This would be cruel, too, particularly so on Steven Croft and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who both made 97 in their sides' respective innings. And also on Lancashire's young bowlers, who defended 311, a total that was no better than par, and retained their composure even when Kohler-Cadmore and Gary Ballance's 127-run fourth-wicket stand was piloting their team's recovery from 87 for 3.
But Mahmood bowled Kohler-Cadmore when he was shaping to drive and three overs later had Ballance well caught by a diving Glenn Maxwell for 72. At that point Yorkshire were 241 for 5 in the 42nd over and their run chase was thereafter beset with obstacles, most of them placed by a young Lancashire attack. Both Matt Parkinson and the debutant Liam Hurt bowled tight overs and thus we were pulled towards that final over and Lancashire's first victory in this year's Royal London Cup.
Perhaps it had been clear for some time that this would be a tense affair. To a degree the opening Power Plays of each innings foreshadowed the closeness of the outcome. Although Adam Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore tore into the Lancashire attack, Lyth taking four boundaries off Mahmood's second over, Yorkshire's eventual 42 for 2 could be balanced against Lancashire's 40 for 2. Indeed, after racing to 36 for 0 off their first four overs, the home side scored only six runs of the next six and lost both Lyth and David Willey while doing so.
The dismissals of two of their most destructive batsmen slowed Yorkshire's progress and having imposed a stranglehold, Lancashire's bowlers maintained it. Only 46 runs were scored off the second set of ten overs in the home side's innings and the required run rate climbed to over 7.6. Then Parkinson, whom no one played with comfort, had Harry Brook lbw for 24 and it seemed Lancashire had the edge.
But Ballance is in rare form at the moment; once again he is knocking at the selectors' door. And thus he joined Kohler-Cadmore in their fine stand, its distinguishing marks being gradual acceleration and shrewd shot-selection. Only rarely were the pair troubled although Lancashire were convinced Maxwell's direct hit had run out Ballance when he was only 59 and the fielder's displeasure at Tim Robinson's decision attracted the umpires' notice. Playbacks suggested his complaint was justified. Either way it was the only sour moment of a great game.
Lancashire, of course, had encountered their own problems in posting a respectable total. They were 116 for 4 and seemed set for mediocrity before Croft combined with Rob Jones in a busy partnership of 120 in 19 overs. There were few boundaries, although Jones' strokes were pleasing on the eye and reinforced the good impression he made barely a week ago with his century against Middlesex at Lord's. For a delightful moment it may have seemed to Lancashire supporters that both batsmen were heading for hundreds.
After hitting Poysden for a straight six and then getting to fifty in only 38 balls, Jones dishclothed a pull off Tim Bresnan to Willey at deep midwicket. He had made 65 and is beginning to look the part of a Lancashire cricketer. Croft, of course, achieved that status over a decade ago, since when he has honoured his position with wholehearted effort. So it was a trifle sad when he gossamered a drive off Willey to Jonny Tattersall when only three short of scoring his second successive List A hundred.
That left Lancashire on 243 for 6 in the 45th over and for ten minutes it seemed their innings would lose its impetus. But Josh Bohannon put all such notions to flight by taking 41 runs off the antepenultimate and final overs of the innings, both of them bowled by Bresnan who was pulled and cut to perdition. When the slaughter was over Bohannon had reached his maiden List A fifty and Lancashire had a total over 300, one which they could feel they had a hope of defending. Around four hours later they were proved right.