Just shy of 20,000 people packed in to Old Trafford to enjoy a thrilling Friday night at the T20 Blast Roses clash, but their spirits were ultimately dampened by a deluge that brought the action to a halt – and remarkably ended the game as a tie.
The umpires persisted in heavy rain for almost five overs before deciding the downpour had become too heavy, and will have walked off the field mightily relieved to discover they had terminated play with the scores level on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
It brought to an end what promised to be a fascinating contest, with Lancashire’s first innings total of 176-4 looking par, or possibly below par.
Yorkshire got off to a slow start and were well adrift of the score required to win, after five overs were bowled to constitute a game – as it became clear that rain was set to play a factor.
But they got themselves up with the rate thanks to a poor fifth over delivered by Tom Bailey that went for 18.
Play continued in the rain and Adam Lyth looked to have played a foolhardy stroke, launching one high into the sky off Ryan McLaren and being caught by Arron Lilley – a wicket that put Lancashire ahead of the formula.
Lyth was gone for 20 and at the end of the powerplay, Yorkshire were 47-2 and were two short of the par score.
But by the end of the 8th over Yorkshire had nudged their noses ahead by just the single run, as David Willey launched Junaid Khan over midwicket for six. The umpires played one ball of the 9th over before calling time on the innings and leaving the match tied.
The crowd, who had come to see a thrilling contest, ultimately left damp and disappointed. But the 19,461 did get a glimpse of the magic of T20 at the start of the Lancashire innings.
Openers Karl Brown and Liam Livingstone got the Lightning off to a flyer – reaching 59-0 at the end of the powerplay.
Livingstone had made an elegant, innovative and powerful 34 from just 24 balls when he fell victim to Adil Rashid’s second delivery, advancing down the track and being stumped by Peter Handscomb.
Jos Buttler came in and picked up the baton from his younger teammate, scooping, reverse sweeping and bludgeoning his way to a 50 partnership with Brown from just 29 balls.
The top three lit up Old Trafford with a true 360° display of power and smart thinking, with an array of scoops and dabs including an extraordinary ‘no-look’ scoop past the keeper by Livingstone for four.
Buttler fell for 28 from 18 balls and Lancashire lost momentum.
Brown brought up his half-century from 32 deliveries but just 18 runs were scored between overs 12 and 16 as Yorkshire took pace off the ball and squeezed their opponents.
Dane Vilas came and went for seven and Brown was given a life by Kohler-Cadmore on 56 when he dropped a tough catch running in from long on.
Ryan McLaren breathed life into the Lightning however, capitalising on some wayward bowling by Willey to take 15 off the 18th over.
Brown departed for 61 from 47 having been starved of the strike after Buttler’s departure, but McLaren was there at the end on 34 from 18 balls as Lancashire took 13 off the last to reach 176-4.
It was a total that, in the end, Yorkshire never really got the chance to chase.
“I think the umpires were in a really difficult situation, I don’t think they could ever come off at the right time,” Brown said.
“I don’t envy being an umpire. They gave it every chance which is all you can ask for.
“I felt that we were in a good position at the halfway stage and I felt that we had enough runs on the board to win the game, but one point is better than none I guess.
“I always enjoy playing against Yorkshire, it’s pretty easy to get up for. Livingstone and Jos took the pressure off me and I felt really good. I feel like I’m in good nick at the moment.
“You can’t explain how good an atmosphere it is and the players thrive off that.
“I don’t think we’ve made a bad start to the competition but it’s not a good start either. There’s a long way to go and it’s all about getting on that run where you win three or four games on the bounce.”
Rain was the victor on Old Trafford’s biggest night of the season. Lancashire flags and caps were provided for all supporters, the music blasted out and the pyrotechnics were in full force.
This Roses clash attracted 3,961 more supporters than the same match last season, showing the enduring appeal of this historic rivalry and indeed the T20 Blast.
But the appeal of cricket goes hand in hand with the mercy of the weather and, on this occasion, the rain won out.
And a tie was the perfect result to finish on.