David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Yorkshire 147 for 4 (Bairstow 34, Kohler-Cadmore 31*) beat Birmingham Bears 144 for 8 (Hain 59, Thompson 3-23) by six wickets with 11 balls to spare
Yorkshire encouraged the belief that they have finally assembled a T20 squad that can challenge for honours as they overcame Birmingham Bears by six wickets with 11 balls to spare at Headingley.
The presence of three England T20 internationals - Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Adil Rashid (carded to come in at No.11) gave them obvious extra pedigree in their first match of the tournament, but it was an energetic approach by young players who have developed while the likes of Bairstow and Rashid has been otherwise engaged that also indicated some lean T20 years might be behind them.
Rashid's absence from Yorkshire's side, particularly in the Championship, has occasionally attracted pointed remarks, largely unfair, but it is even more striking that this was Bairstow's first Blast appearance for Yorkshire since 2016. Rashid finished wicketless, but Bairstow and Malan assembled a second-wicket of stand 58 in 34 balls that set them up nicely on a slow but accommodating surface to overhaul the Bears' sub-standard 144 for 8.
If Yorkshire looked focused, the Headingley crowd displayed a split personality - unruly on the West Stand, where down-in-one beer challenges, chants and fancy dress predominated, as if release (perhaps temporary) from lockdown was too much to take; watching with serious intent elsewhere where Tim Bresnan's return to Headingley in Birmingham colours probably brought learned assessments of his comparative strike rates across all competitions.
Birmingham wasted an appealing batting night with a wild top-order display. Will Rhodes' standing has grown substantially since Yorkshire released him, but he made nought, toe-ending a wide full toss from Matthew Waite to mid-off. Waite, a combative all-rounder playing his first match for two years, also removed Adam Hose who endured a painful blow in the box, bad enough for a five-minute hold-up, then resorted to an over of leg-side slogging, as if disorientated, before one of them fell into the hands of Adam Lyth at mid-on.
Jordan Thompson was another effervescent allrounder who had a good night, although for all his energy and ambition, his three wickets were blessed with fortune. Dan Mousley hacked a dirty full toss to long on, Carlos Brathwaite tried to clip a gift outside leg stump and got a leading edge which Thompson sprang backwards to his left to claim. Another caught-and-bowled ended Michael Burgess' tortuous stay.
From 89 for 6 in the 13th over, Birmingham were forced into damage limitation and Sam Hain, who glued things together with 59 from 43 balls, would have been grateful for a rare face of sanity - the unmistakeable figure for Yorkshire watchers of Bresnan, returning to Headingley for the first time since leaving the county at the end of 2019.
Hain included three sixes in his 59 - the most extravagant, a falling-backwards ramp shot against the pace of Lockie Ferguson - but, by and large, his was an unobtrusive innings which contrasted with the untamed thrashes going on around him.
Bresnan's presence in the closing overs was a welcome sub-plot for the Headingley crowd which had been unable to offer him a farewell last season. In between the applause at each end of his innings, he spent much of the time desperately urging extra speed from his considerable frame as Yorkshire hunted run-outs; a Ferguson-Thompson combo on the square leg boundary, with Thompson's throw hitting direct, was the closest effort and sent him diving into the dirt. He did muscle Waite for a straight six before he fell in the penultimate over.
Matches between these sides have brought few major batting displays: Tom Kohler-Cadmore's 94 not out at Edgbaston being an exception. But Yorkshire's chase was pretty straightforward.
Malan had played only one match for Punjab in IPL, but he had also been with England in India and admitted to having felt "a bit of bubble fatigue". His 23 from 20 balls was that of a man finding his way back. When Malan lofted Bresnan into the leg-side ring and Bairstow chopped on to Danny Briggs, it was left to a trio of younger players to round things off.
Kohler-Cadmore's stand with Harry Brook was a sensible affair - 49 in eight overs. Kohler-Cadmore has had a lean Championship season and he was dropped twice in his unbeaten 31. Yorkshire have often made a meal of closing out matches, so when Brook tried to lift the tempo and fell at long on, there were concerns. But this time Will Fraine's no-nonsense finale took them home in emphatic fashion.
Bears vs Yorkshire