Lancashire 186 for 6 (Buttler 71*, Maxwell 3-15) beat Yorkshire 185 for 8 (Root 55, Faulkner 3-27) by four wickets
There is more Anne Robinson than Emmott Robinson about a T20 Roses match at Headingley. Short-form floodlit cricket in front of 16,199 baying fans at Headingley is all about exposing your opponents' weakest links and wishing them a brusque farewell. The 2015 edition of this quasi-tribal rivalry did nothing to crack the curse-littered mould, even though the presence of the England players and two of Australia's World Cup winners suggested that any vulnerability would need all the finding.
Ultimately it was a cricketer whose bat speed beggars belief who overshadowed both James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell, well as those two Australians bowled. Just over 72 hours previously Jos Buttler had performed valiantly in England's losing cause against New Zealand. On Friday evening, on a pitch just two away from the one on which he had made 73 in three hours, Buttler smote a stunning 71 not out off just 35 balls to take Lancashire to a win which the bookies had not predicted and which appeared unlikely even when Tim Bresnan began the final over of the game.
At that point Lancashire were 169 for 6 and Bresnan is an experienced cricketer with plenty of medals on his chest. Buttler, though, hit his first ball over midwicket for six and drove two crisp fours into a couple of gaps in Andrew Gale's carefully-set field. Three balls later the batsmen were embracing on the outfield after Maxwell's throw from no more than a dozen yards to tie the game had missed the stumps and left Buttler and Arron Lilley to scurry home. Gale later criticised his bowlers' failure to find their lengths under pressure and there was justice in his view but there are times when bowling to Buttler is as tough as English short-form cricket gets.
Lancashire's matchwinner had come to the wicket with the score on 82 for 2 in the eleventh over. His side needed another 104 off 56 balls. But such challenges are almost par for the T20 course these days, although it helps when you can hit sixes as smoothly as the England wicketkeeper. He coped with the loss of Ashwell Prince, who became Maxwell's third victim when leg before for 32 attempting to sweep. Buttler then added 52 in barely four overs with his skipper, Steven Croft, who was caught at long-on by Rich Pyrah off Liam Plunkett for 15.
When the penultimate over of the innings began, Lancashire needed 32 but Buttler lifted Matthew Fisher into the crowd for two sixes. The young seamer had struck a blow earlier in the over, though, by having Faulkner caught by Maxwell at long-on and he then had Alex Davies leg before first ball. All that activity left Lancashire needed 17 and Bresnan at the start of his run…
The truth was that until the fourth ball of that final over Lancashire had not looked like winning the game. Both Joe Root, who made 54 off 39 balls, and Gary Ballance, whose 31 had included sixes off three successive balls had found the Lancashire bowlers offering balm for their Test match woes. Between them the pair had maintained Yorkshire's progress at nine an over and apart from Faulkner, none of Croft's attack found it easy to bowl to them.
However, Faulkner showed why his talents were so highly prized during the World Cup by regularly changing his pace without sacrificing an ounce of control. Often bowling out of the back of his hand, he yorked Gale for 6, and later accounted for both Root and Jack Leaning in a four-over spell which cost just 27 runs. In short-form terms, it was almost miserly.
Yet when the music blared out over Headingley at mid-innings there were not too many willing to bet against a home win. Indeed, the tone for the raucous occasion had seemed to be set when Maxwell reverse pulled Croft's first ball of the game for six and took 18 off the opening over. That flurry delighted the home fans in their bizarre canary headgear and some thought it might have served to define events on the sort of intense, emotional evening when Blanche DuBois might have seen something in cricket..
By half past nine the mood had changed markedly after a Roses game which Neville Cardus, that connoisseur of the rivalry, would have crossed the M62 to avoid. Anne Robinson, though, really would have loved it. For the brute conclusion was clear: Thanks to Buttler, Yorkshire were the weakest links. Goodbye.