|Scorecard:||Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire|
In an unexpectedly exciting finish after a huge Yorkshire total, Nottinghamshire came back from the dead to win the match by three wickets. Their Man of the Match was all-rounder Mark Ealham, who followed an accurate bowling performance with a stupendous innings of 91 that brought his team back from a seemingly impossible position.
Nottinghamshire won the toss and put Yorkshire in to bat on an evening where the sky was mostly covered in thin cloud, but the light was good. The second over of the match was important for Yorkshire: Andy Harris sent them down short and wide, while the batsmen helped themselves, Matthew Wood hitting two fours and Andrew Gale three.
Gale raced to 38 off just 22 balls, hitting renegade Yorkshireman Ryan Sidebottom for a big six over long-on before stepping back to try another big shot to be comprehensively bowled. Yorkshire were 56 for one in the sixth over.
Phil Jaques scored just a single before he was caught at the wicket by Chris Read off another of Nottinghamshire’s second-hand players, Mark Ealham, formerly of Kent, and Yorkshire were 58 for two. Things would have been worse had Anthony McGrath not been dropped on 2 on the sweep at deep square leg.
Read, captain of the home side just for the Twenty20 Cup competition, certainly believes in juggling his bowlers, as his fifth bowler came on to bowl the ninth over of the innings.
McGrath almost perished again on the square-leg boundary as he swung Kevin Pietersen straight to the fielder there, Kevin Hussey, who tried to grasp the ball right on the boundary edge, but as he felt himself falling knocked the ball back inside the rope to save any kind of boundary. Then, later in the over, McGrath did it a third time, no doubt under the illusion that the stroke was safe, and Hussey took it chest-high this time with no trouble whatever. McGrath made 8 and Yorkshire were 81 for three in the 10th over.
Tim Bresnan was soon under way, helped by some loose deliveries from Pietersen, while Wood settled in to play the equivalent of an anchor innings in this form of the game. Bresnan on 19 survived a life off Gareth Clough on the midwicket boundary, so the home side’s catching was doing its bowlers no favours.
Wood’s fifty came off 45 balls and he continued to punish severely everything the helpful Nottinghamshire bowlers put down the leg side. The pair added 72 before Bresnan got a leading edge swinging at Richard Logan and was caught by Sumit Patel running round from extra cover for 35, scored off just 16 balls. Yorkshire were 153 for four in the 17th over.
Michael Lumb was run out from the next delivery without facing a ball, as Wood attempted to steal a leg-bye and the bowler Logan threw the stumps down with Lumb as non-striker out of his ground; 153 for five.
Victor Craven made 14 in quick time before swinging Sidebottom to be caught by midwicket Clough running back off Sidebottom; 168 for six in the 18th over. Then Chris Silverwood skyed Logan to long-off running in off the first delivery he faced; 170 for seven in the 19th over.
Later in the over Wood played a remarkable shot, hitting Logan for six over cover point after backing away and swinging at the ball one-handed. The next ball also went for six, over extra cover, as he stepped back and hit it inside-out. Then came a snick for four, which would have been caught – or dropped – had a first slip been in position, and a slice over backward point that just dropped short of the boundary.
In the final over, Ismail Dawood nudged a four to fine leg, off Sidebottom, first ball, but then wasted two deliveries as he tried to tickle them to third man and missed. A single off the fourth ball left Wood with 12 needed for his century off two balls. He responded with a huge six over long-on next ball, but could only scamper a quick two in the same direction from the final delivery.
He finished with 98 off 62 balls, with 8 fours and 4 sixes, Yorkshire’s highest Twenty20 score, and Yorkshire were 207 for seven, the first time they have ever topped 200 in this new competition. Sidebottom and Logan were the most successful bowlers, with two wickets each, but Ealham showed up the others for economy, with one for 19 off his four overs.
Jason Gallian and Paul Franks opened the batting for Nottinghamshire, while Steven Kirby missed running out Gallian without scoring in his first over, the second of the innings. Gallian in fact had trouble putting bat to ball at all at first, but Franks was first to fall, slicing a catch to Wood at extra cover off Kirby for 14. Nottinghamshire were 22 for one in the fourth over.
Kirby was erratic, though, and it was Silverwood who took the next wicket, that of the dangerous Pietersen, caught at the wicket by Dawood and never looking as if he could sight the ball at all; 29 for two in the fifth over. New batsman Hussey might have been run out on 6, stranded in mid-pitch after a brilliant stop at short extra cover by Lumb, but his throw at the stumps, with all the time in the world, missed.
Gallian finally fell for a laborious 8, slashing the unpredictable Kirby straight to Craven at third man; 39 for three in the seventh over. Remarkably, Kirby was allowed to finish with figures of two for 22 in his fourth over, despite a number of wides.
Much relied now on Hussey, but quick work by bowler Silverwood and the keeper Dawood ran him out for 14 as he tried to steal a single. At 56 for four in the 10th over, Nottinghamshire had now apparently lost what little hope they had of winning the match.
Ealham and Read resolved to go down with all guns blazing, though, with Ealham hitting Silverwood for a huge six over long-on and then an even bigger hit off McGrath that almost reached the window of the pressbox. Bresnan from the other end was next to travel, a hit over the midwicket boundary being very well caught in the crowd. Ealham reached his fifty off just 23 balls.
McGrath went for another three sixes, over long leg and midwicket twice, off successive balls, but lost Read (22), slashing McGrath at Lumb in the covers. Nottinghamshire looked much better now at 143 for five in the 16th over, this pair having added 87 in six overs.
Clough kept the score moving with two successive leg-side boundaries off Richard Dawson, while Ealham picked Craven for his next sixes, over midwicket and long leg off successive deliveries, and after that over Nottinghamshire needed 29 to win off the last three overs.
Ealham continued to hit ferociously and successfully at anything the slightest bit off line and length, but he lost Clough (16), who tried to hit Bresnan on the leg side, only for the leading edge to fly back down the pitch and the bowler took an instinctive catch above his head; 185 for six in the 18th over, and 22 were needed off the last two overs.
Then came what appeared to be the vital blow. Dawson bowled to Ealham, who hit a huge skyer on the leg side. Three men converged on it, but two watched in trepidation as Bresnan, the closest of them, held the catch without difficulty. Ealham was out for a superb 91 off just 35 balls, with 5 fours and 9 sixes.
But the match still wasn’t over. Logan swung and snicked the next two deliveries just wide of the keeper on either side, and both went for four. Kirby just failed to reach a possible difficult catch off the next ball, the batsmen took two, and 10 were needed off the final over, with McGrath to bowl it.
Patel’s thick edge squirted the first ball backward of point for four, and then two came from a skyer to mid-on that nobody could reach in time. There was one to third man, a quick single to midwicket, and then Patel lashed the penultimate ball through the covers for four. He finished with 14 and Logan 11, and Nottinghamshire had achieved a remarkable victory.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)