North Group: Lancashire 204-7 (Livingstone 55; Bresnan 3-24) beat Yorkshire 178-7 (Root 92; Edwards 3-33) by 26 runs, at Emirates Old Trafford
This was a match that showcased everything that is good about T20 cricket. From start to finish, Lancashire and Yorkshire delivered massive hits, terrific bowling and some sensational fielding to enthral and captivate a packed Old Trafford. If ECB chairman Colin Graves was watching, he will have realised that this is anything but mediocre.
The Roses clash is always a crowd-puller and this proved no exception. A sell-out crowd ensured Old Trafford was rocking and when you threw in a plethora of international stars and a brilliant batting pitch, the stage was set for a classic encounter.
And so it proved. After losing their first two games in comprehensive fashion, reigning T20 Blast champions Lancashire finally showed the class that took them to that maiden title.
Having lost the toss and been asked to bat first, Lancashire kept coming hard at their Roses rivals despite losing two wickets inside the powerplay. Half-centuries for Liam Livingstone and Karl Brown helped the Lightning post an imposing total of 204 – one which Yorkshire never looked like chasing down.
But the star of the show, in a losing cause, was Yorkshire and England batsman Joe Root. Released by the ECB to play in this fixture, Root put on a magnificent show and played a lone hand in Yorkshire’s chase. He constructed a near-perfect T20 innings, marrying placement and touch with power when necessary.
His frustration at the fact that his innings was nowhere near enough to get Yorkshire over the line was clear for all to see. He finished short of a century, unbeaten on 92 from 51 balls as Lancashire clinched their third successive T20 win against Yorkshire.
There was precious little support for him at the other end, as Lancashire kept picking up crucial wickets to kill any Yorkshire momentum. Liam Plunkett was the second-highest scorer with 22, showing how single-handed Root’s knock was. George Edwards picked up late wickets to finish with three, while off-spinner Arron Lilley was magnificent – taking 2-23 from his three overs.
Earlier, Lancashire posted a competitive total for the first time this season, despite starting their innings somewhat sluggishly. Tim Bresnan and Steven Patterson were terrific in the powerplay and after their first six overs, Lancashire were behind the game at 47-2, having lost dangermen Martin Guptill and Alviro Petersen.
Yorkshire skipper Alex Lees produced a sensational catch running backwards to remove Guptill, just one example of the top class fielding that punctuated the entire contest.
Lancashire soon found their rhythm courtesy of two home-grown stars. Brown and Livingstone were outstanding in a destructive partnership of 98 runs from just 50 balls.
Brown began the onslaught, twice launching Will Rhodes into the fan zone where both were dropped in the crowd – despite a successful grab being enough to win three days in Dubai! He was superb and a mainstay of the Lancashire innings with a knock of 50 from 36 balls.
But Livingstone is the man who will quite rightly grab the headlines. The 22-year-old has made a brilliant start to the season in the Championship and continued his form in fine style here.
Demonstrating frightening power and devastating timing, Livingstone recorded the fastest half-century ever by a Lancashire batsman from just 21 balls, before falling to Plunkett for a brilliantly-constructed 55.
Livingstone was delighted with his performance.
“There’s no better feeling than that – especially against Yorkshire,” Livingstone said. “I loved it. It’s pretty easy when you slide under the radar with Guptill and Jos in the side.
“It’s a free role for me really. You can go out and play with a bit of freedom and have some fun.
“It’s always good fun in the Roses matches at Old Trafford and it’s nice to put on a performance for the fans.”
There were contributions all the way down. Old Trafford was given a brief glimpse of Jos Buttler’s talent with 23 from 11 balls, as the England star smacked Root into the stands before pulling out the ramp shot to flick Plunkett for a maximum. Jordan Clark also showed great power with a 14-ball 28 as Lancashire kept coming at Yorkshire.
The Lightning had made it to a mighty 199-5 from 19 overs, but Tim Bresnan delivered a terrific final over, conceding just five runs and taking two wickets. It clawed some momentum back Yorkshire’s way and looked to have given them a chance, needing 205 to win.
But as Nasser Hussain said on Sky Sports, Lancashire looked like champions tonight. They bowled brilliantly on an ideal batting pitch. Where Yorkshire spinner Adil Rashid was dispatched to all parts of Old Trafford, Lancashire’s three spinners were outstanding and formed the backbone of their bowling performance.
In the field the Lightning were agile and committed, preventing Yorkshire from ever looking like getting to the total and condemning Jason Gillespie’s side to three straight defeats at the start of the season.
Livingstone was pleased to end their losing run in the T20.
“We’ve let a lot of people down in the last two games,” he said. “We haven’t been at the races. We had a little chat last week and I thought we played really well tonight.
“Luckily we got up and running today. The key is to keep it going. We go again tomorrow.”