Ian Bell Steps Down as Bears Captain

Ian Bell has stood down from the captaincy of Warwickshire and the Birmingham Bears. This follows the decision to drop him from the Birmingham Bears T20 side that defeated Lancashire to ensure qualification for the NatWest T20 Blast quarter finals.

Grant Elliott will captain the Birmingham Bears in their match against Surrey on Friday. Jonathan Trott will take over the captaincy of the Championship side for the rest of the season.

Ashley Giles, Sport Director at Warwickshire CCC, said: “Ian and I have spoken regularly throughout the season and he made the decision to stand down as skipper following our Specsavers County Championship win over Middlesex two weeks ago.

“It’s very brave of Ian to make this decision, but one that we fully respect.

“Having him focused solely on scoring runs for Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears is a huge asset to the club as we bid to reach a third Finals Day in four years and aim to build on our Championship victory at Lord’s.”

Ian Bell said: “It’s been an absolute honour to lead my home county over the last 18 months, and my decision to stand down is something that I have thought long and hard about over a period of weeks.

“This is the right time for me to stand down as captain, to focus on my batting and scoring runs, which will be the best thing for the team.

“As a senior player, I will support the team in all ways possible and I believe that our squad has very exciting times ahead.”

In view of Bell’s own lack of form, and the struggles of the team in both the Specsavers County Championship and the Royal London One Day Cup, the decision comes as no surprise. Even so, it is not something that will have come easily to Bell who has been a committed Bears supporter since childhood.

Bell led Warwickshire to the Royal London One Day Cup last year. But this season, the Bears finished last in their Royal London group. They are also in the bottom two in Division One of the County Championship, with a mountain to climb if they are to avoid relegation.

Although Bell scored well in the Royal London Cup earlier in the season, his batting form in both the Championship and the T20 competition has been indifferent. He averages only in the mid-twenties.

At least as significant is the fact that his T20 strike rate this season has been, at 117.28, lower than all the Bears’ other recognised batsmen. In the first-class game, his last hundred was at the start of the 2016 season.

Still only 35, there is no doubt that, if Bell can recover his batting form, he can play a major part for the Bears as they seek to rebuild an ageing team. Whether the appetite is there is another matter.

Bell’s decision to stand down continues the rapid pace of change at Edgbaston. It follows the mid-season retirement of Ian Westwood, the club’s decision to let Rikki Clarke go to Surrey and the recruitment of young players Will Rhodes, Adam Hose and Dominic Sibley.

Buttler and Livingstone keep Lancashire’s Blast hopes alive

Lancashire kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the T20 Blast quarter-finals, as Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone guided them to a commanding seven-wicket win over Worcestershire with 15 balls to spare.

The pair shared a 76-run partnership in 64 balls to see the Lightning to their target of 128. It was a game that Lancashire knew they must win to stand any chance of reaching the knockout phase, even though they are still reliant on other results going their way.

With the threat of rain hanging over Lancashire’s run chase it was a wonderfully-measured effort from the Lightning batsmen.

Jordan Clark’s promotion to open the batting didn’t work, however, as he departed for four, looping the ball to Patrick Brown at short fine-leg.

But Arron Lilley struck the ball beautifully and hit three successive boundaries in the fifth over to take Lancashire on to 34-1, and crucially ahead of the DLS par score at that stage.

And they never fell behind that mark throughout the rest of the innings, chasing a target that Worcestershire captain Joe Leach admitted was 25-30 runs short of a competitive total.

When Lilley fell for a 24-ball 33, Lancashire were 47-2 in the seventh over and needed a partnership to guide them home.

Their two star batsmen provided just that, playing a sensible innings and nudging the ball around the ground to keep just ahead of where they needed to be.

Lancashire had moved on to 83-2 after 13 overs, and 7.4 overs had passed without a boundary being struck. Buttler ended that run with a powerful six down the ground off Alex Hepburn and followed it up with a four two balls later.

The England keeper was on just 15 after 21 balls of his innings, but after 29 balls be had progressed to 35 – putting the hammer down at just the right time.

Lancashire knew that improving their net run rate was also important as they attempt to make the quarter-finals and, with the finish line in sight, Buttler was doing just that.

Livingstone’s innings was one of control and, when he was out for 36 from 37 balls in the 18th over, he hadn’t hit a single boundary in the innings.

Buttler brought up his own milestone from the penultimate ball of the match, making 52 from 40 balls before the innings ended with a wide from Joe Leach as Lancashire clinched the win they so badly needed.

Earlier it was Lancashire’s arsenal of spinners that did the damage to a Worcestershire side who already knew that they couldn’t make the knockout stage.

Between them, Lancashire bowled 13 overs of spin with figures of 4-66. Lilley’s 2-18 were the best figures on show, but 20-year-old leg-spinner Matt Parkinson impressed once again, taking 1-14 from his four overs.

In fact of all bowlers who have bowled more than three overs in the competition, Parkinson’s economy rate of 5.78 is the best.

The Rapids never got going, losing wickets at regular intervals and only two of their batsmen passed 20. Brett D’Oliveira’s 33-ball 30 was the highlight of an otherwise underwhelming innings as they staggered to 127-8.

“It’s obviously a great win,” Lilley said.

“The wicket that we played on helps us with the spinners we have and the lads that we have who are good players of spin.

“Tomorrow’s Northants v Yorkshire game is a big one for us. Depending on how that goes is how we go about Friday. Obviously we need to win the game but it’s all up in the air I think.

“We want to finish on a win and hopefully qualify with two wins in a row. We snuck in at the last minute in 2015 (when Lancashire won the T20 Blast). Hopefully results go our way and we can get through to the quarter-finals.”

There are a whole host of permutations that could unfold on the final round of the Blast group stage on Friday, but Lancashire’s hopes will be altered by the Northants v Yorkshire game tomorrow.

But the Lightning knew that the minimum requirement of them was to win their final two matches and they ticked the first of those off in fine fashion.

Sciver outguns Taylor to guide Stars to victory over Thunder

Surrey Stars all-rounder Natalie Sciver got the better of her England teammate Sarah Taylor to guide her side to a 33-run win over Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford.

Chasing 134, Taylor looked to be playing a guiding hand for her team but her dismissal triggered a remarkable collapse which left the Stars celebrating a second win from two.

Sciver had earlier rescued the Stars’ innings to post a total of 133, which ultimately proved unassailable.

But for much of the Thunder innings it looked like a run chase that was well within their reach. Having lost Emma Lamb in the second over, Taylor came in and began to construct the innings.

Alongside Eve Jones, she pushed the total on to 32-1 at the end of the Powerplay. Jones was the aggressor but fell for 26 from 28 balls in the ninth over. At that point, Taylor picked up the baton and launched Alex Hartley down the ground for six three balls later.

With nine overs remaining, Thunder needed 65 and the general assessment was that it was a chase that they should have been able to manage.

Even when Amy Satterthwaite was bowled by Australian Rene Farrell, the Thunder would have remained confident while Taylor remained to spearhead the innings.

Her dismissal changed the match. She attempted a scoop but only succeeded in picking out Grace Gibbs off Farrell to fall for a brilliantly-made 34 from 29 balls. Much like Jos Buttler’s dismissal in the Lancashire Lightning side, it felt as though the Thunder’s chances went with her.

And so it proved in dramatic fashion. The final seven wickets of the Thunder innings fell in the space of just 27 balls as the Stars surged to a comprehensive 33-run victory.

That collapse included Ellie Threlkeld being stumped off a wide with her first ball faced, before Sophie Ecclestone also departed for a duck as she was trapped by Sciver.

Farrell had done the bulk of the damage and finished with a superb five-wicket haul, claiming 5-26 from her four overs.

That the Stars had a total to bowl at was thanks largely to Sciver’s guiding hand at the end of their innings.

After a bright start in the powerplay, thanks to the excellence of Tammy Beaumont – who made a powerful and elegant 36 from 25 balls – the Stars began to lose their way.

From 50-1 after the first six overs, at the end of the 13th over they had 74-4 and were being pegged back by Lancashire’s pace-off-the-ball approach in the middle overs.

Jess Jonassen had Laura Marsh stumped by Taylor for 11 and that brought Sciver together with Sophia Dunkley-Brown. The pair shared a pivotal 50-partnership from just 33 balls, with Dunkley-Brown run out off the last delivery of the innings. She made 24 from 17 balls but the real controlling knock had come from Sciver.

She had rebuilt the Stars’ innings and put her foot on the accelerator towards the end, including hitting the only six of the innings by dumping Satterthwaite over the rope in the 18th over.

Her 40 from 36 balls was ultimately the difference between the two sides and helped the Stars to a superb win.

Lancashire captain Danielle Hazell bemoaned the way the batting fell apart and singled out Sciver’s innings for Surrey.

“We can’t lose that many wickets for that many runs chasing,” she said. “It’s disappointing and it hurts but it’s clear now that we have to win three games of cricket if we want to get to Finals Day really.

“You need to have somebody in who is going to guide you to the end and that showed in their innings how Nat [Sciver] got them to the end and that was the difference really we didn’t have that player.”

Five-wickets are a rarity in T20 cricket and Farrell was responsible for blowing away the Thunder lower order. She expressed her delight at how the day had gone.

“Everyone bowled really well, great performance by all the girls,” Farrell said.

“I’m happy to take any wickets in a T20 and not get hit for eight-plus runs per over. Happy to get them on the board and sometimes it’s your day and today was mine.

“We knew once we got past Taylor and Satterthwaite and also Jess Jonassen as well, then we were in with a sniff. We just move forward now, onwards and upwards and fingers crossed we are there on finals day.”

Lancashire Thunder face Loughborough Lightning at Blackpool on Sunday knowing that only a win is good enough to keep them in the competition.

Scrappy Jets fail to stop Falcons flight toward quarters

Derbyshire set out tonight looking for a win that would all but guarantee them a place in the top four of the North group and a quarterfinal berth for the first time since 2005. Durham set out to add more respectability to their points total, which has been blighted by the deduction of four points for financial issues last season.

By the end of the night the hosts needed to look no more, winning and moving them to 15 points and second place in the Northern Group of the T20 Blast and edging them closer to that precious quarter final berth.

With the quarterfinal qualification left in the hands of stand in captain Daryn Smit, he would have wanted a good start and, despite losing the toss in his first game in charge, that’s exactly what he got.

His bowlers and fielders restricted Durham to 42 for 4 in the powerplay, which included two run outs, one by Critchley in the first over, dispatching outgoing England opener Keaton Jennings with a superb direct hit and the second with Hardus Viljoen running out Michael Richardson without scoring in his follow through using fancy footwork, not his hands.

The other two wickets fell to the excellent Wayne Madsen and overseas player Matt Henry. Madsen really put the breaks on the Jets, with his tight nagging off spin limiting the scoring options for the Jets batsmen. Henry saw the back of danger man Tom Latham off the last ball of the powerplay, when he picked out Alex Hughes on the deep mid wicket boundary for a well made 28 of 23 balls.

Smit’s spinners continued to give him control with the ball in the middle overs, restricting the flow of boundaries, with the Jets failing to find the boundary for a period of five overs. At that point it looked like Durham were going to struggle to post a really competitive total, not helped by the loss of two further wickets with Coughlin and Burnham both departing.

his brought Poynter to the crease and this gave Durham the impetus the innings needed, scoring a magnificent 61 not out off 40 balls. Durham still looked to be well short of a competitive total, but 35 off the final two overs with Cotton and Henry both losing their control of length, allowing the Jets to post 161 for 7 and setting the Falcons 162 for victory.

That chase got off to a steady start with Critchley and Godleman nudging singles and finding the boundary once an over, until Godleman was caught off what looked to be a no ball but the third umpire saw some part of Weighell’s boot behind the line and he had to go.

The Falcons reached the end of the powerplay with 44 runs to their name and the further loss of Critchley.

Madsen and Reece then set about building an innings and moving Derbyshire towards their victory total. When Madsen fell in the 11th over they had moved the score to 76 for 3 and looked relatively comfortable, although not guaranteed victory.

The man that guaranteed victory was Luis Reece who scored a beautifully crafted 66 of 49 balls, including five 4s and two 6s and in the process became the first Derbyshire batsman to score four scores of 50 or more in a T20 season. It could have been very different however had Paul Coughlin held on to a relatively simple catch offered to him on the deep mid-wicket boundary, when Reece was on just 21.

This was a running theme for the Jets fielders throughout the innings, with miss-fields and dropped catches the norm and when they did hold a catch it was off a no ball.

While Reece was quite rightly named man of the match a special mention must go to Matt Henry, who came in and scored a quick fire 20 off 10 balls and allowed Derbyshire to have a stuttering finish, before captain Smit hit the winning runs with three balls and three wickets to spare.

On the victory Smit said “I’d have taken 161 at half time. I thought it was below par looking at the batting side and If you’d told me at 15 overs we would’ve won with three balls to spare, I’d have taken that.

“We were under pressure at one stage, before Luis Reece and Matt Henry changed the momentum of the innings.”

Derbyshire now move on to play Leicestershire on Thursday knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the quarter finals and, barring a set of results which would challenge even the loftiest of maths professors, a home one to boot.

Durham move on to Northampton on Friday, certain of finishing bottom of the group.

T20 Blast Permutations Part Two: South Group

Glamorgan have sealed the first qualification spot from the South group, with six wins (as well as four washouts) from their 13 games, and know that victory against Middlesex would seal a home quarter-final.

Defeat to Middlesex and they could be pipped should Hampshire win, and one of Essex, Surrey and Gloucestershire win to join Glamogran on 16 points, or two of the latter trio if Hampshire lose, in which case NRR would decide the top two.

Hampshire are a point behind Glamogran ahead of a final day game against Somerset, and have all but qualified, as to finish outside the top four, they would need to lose to Somerset on Friday, with the winner of Essex v Kent also winning their other remaining game, and Gloucestershire v Surrey finishing as a tie/no result, with both sides also winning their other game, and overturning a hefty NRR margin.

In short Hampshire can begin preparing for a quarter-final next week.

However, victory against Somerset will secure a home tie. Should they lose, two wins for any of Essex, Surrey or Gloucestershire, or Kent – coupled with a NRR swing – would see them claim second place.

Sussex are in third, the first of five teams currently on 12 points, but with only one game to play they know that only victory at home to Essex on Friday will be enough for qualification. The Sharks cannot finish in the top two, so they will be away should they make the quarters.

A Sussex victory would be enough for outright qualification if the following results all happen: Surrey beat Gloucestershire and Kent; Essex fail to beat Kent; Somerset lose to Hampshire and; Middlesex beat Gloucestesrhire then lose to Hampshire. Should any of those six results go against the Sharks, they would be relying on NRR.

Essex’s fate is in their own hands with two games to play, as victories against Kent on Thursday and Sussex on Friday will secure a top four place. It could lead to a home quarter-final should either Glamorgan and Hampshire slip up on Friday.

Should they beat Sussex but lose to Kent, only a similar sequence of results as for Sussex above would see 14 points qualify outright, with a NRR battle the more likely outcome.

Somerset are in a similar position as Sussex with only a trip to Hampshire remaining on Friday. Defeat will see them knocked out whilst victory will only seal outright qualification if both Surrey v Gloucs and Sussex v Kent finish as a tie/no results, as well as other results going their way.

If any two of Essex, Surrey or Gloucestershire take three points from their two games, or one of them plus two Kent victories, Somerset would be knocked out regardless. The Taunton outfit will be hoping results go their way to force a tie on 14 points, with NRR the deciding factor.

Surrey go into their final two games knowing, like Essex, that two wins will guarantee qualification, and could also lead to a home tie should Glamogran or Hampshire slip up, whilst two defeats will see them eliminated. One win from two might also not be enough should two of Essex, Gloucesteshire (having beaten Surrey) and Kent win their final two games. With other sides playing each other,14 points would only secure a tie for third or fourth, leaving Surrey in need of improving their NRR, currently -0.271.

Gloucestershire are in a similar position to Surrey, at the bottom of the five sides currently tied on 12 points, but they know victory at Middlesex on Tuesday would give them the opportunity to seal qualification by beating Surrey – as they conclude their campaign on Thursday.

Two defeats will see them eliminated, whilst one win would lead to an anxious wait for results elsewhere on Friday, where if any two of Essex, Surrey or Kent take three (or four in Kent’s case) points, Gloucs would be eliminated. With their NRR currently the worst in the group on -0.362, they would need to improve significantly to qualify in case of any tie.

The equation is simple for Kent, who may sit in eighth but remarkably their fate is still in their own hands, as victories at Essex on Thursday and at home to Surrey on Friday would see them qualify. Anything less and they are eliminated. Two wins could also see them claim a home tie, but would need Hampshire to lose, as well as a significant NRR swing, and Gloucestershire to fail to win both their remaining games.

Middlesex may sit bottom of the pile, but can still qualify should they win their final two games, at home to Gloucestershire on Tuesday before traveling to Glamorgan on Friday. But if Essex and Surrey win both their games, then Middlesex are out regardless. Should either slip up, then the North London side’s hope would be to finish level on 14 points to qualify on NRR.

Click here to read the North Group permutations.

T20 Blast Permutations Part One: North Group

Competition is as tight as ever in the Natwest T20 Blast this year. We enter the final week of the group stages with 16 of the 18 counties still in the hunt for a quarter final place.

Leaders Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan have sealed the first spot in the North and South respectively with Worcestershire and Durham the only sides definitely eliminated at this stage. Even Middlesex, who prop up the South group, are still able to qualify.

With sides having a mix of one or two games to play this week, with the exception of Derbyshire who have three remaining, we look at what each side has to do in order to claim one of those converted top four spots.

Both groups remain tight, and it is likely the calculators will be out on Friday night, with net run-rate the first tiebreaker if teams are level on points – but more on that later.

We start in the North, where Nottinghamshire have come back from three consecutive defeats at the start of the campaign to win five completed games in a row to surge to the top and secure a quarter final with a game to spare.

Victory at home to Leicester on Friday night will confirm a home tie for the Outlaws, but even if they lose, only Derbyshire winning all three of their remaining games, and two Northamptonshire wins, as well as the Steelbacks overturning a net run-rate deficit of 0.544, would see Notts finish outside the top two.

Birmingham Bears currently sit second on 15 points, but with only one game to play – Lancashire away on Friday night – they will be watching results closely this week to know what they need to do going up to Old Trafford.

As it stands, a win would be enough unless all the following were to happen: Northants take at least three points from games against Yorkshire and Durham; Leicestershire beat Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, having lost to Leics, beat Durham and Worcestershire. That scenrio would see three (If Northants win twice, or four should they get a tie/no result in one of their games) level on 17 points, with net run-rate deciding the final two qualifies (Or three depending on Northants).

With Edgbaston hosting Finals Day, the Bears could secure home advantage throughout the knock-out stages with a win, if Northants lose one of their remaining games, or Derybshire win two, in which case it would go down to NRR, or three Derbyshire win would see them take a home tie.

The Bears could also go through with a defeat, but that would likely come down to a net run-rate battle, with the potential for up to six teams all finishing on 15 points.

Northamptonshire Steelbacks have two games to play, traveling to Yorkshire on Thursday before facing Durham on Friday, knowing that two wins will guarantee them a top four spot, as well as a home tie – unless Derbyshire win their three remaining games, and even then a Notts defeat would see net run-rate decide second.

One win from two would be enough for the Steelbacks unless the following was to happen: Birmingham beat Lancashire; Leicestershire beat Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire; and Derbyshire, having lost to Leics, beat Durham and Worcestershire – a scenario that would knock Northants out. Or, should they tie/get a no result and a win, join Birmingham, Derbys and Leics in a four way NRR shoot out for three places behind Notts.

Yorkshire may start the week holding the final qualification place, but they are the most precariously placed with only one game to play – at home to Northants on Thursday, as they miss the final round of fixtures.

Defeat will knock them out, with the winner of Derbyshire v Leicstershire on Thursday – or both if a tie/NR – guaranteed to go above them. Even victory would leave a tense wait on results on Friday, when a Northants victory over Durham, and Derbys and Leics taking at least three points from their remaining fixtures, would knock Yorkshire out.

To qualify outright, Yorkshire would need Northants to lose to Durham, one of Derbyshire and Leicestershire to take no more than a point, and Lancashire to drop a point in their remaining two games, otherwise it will come down to NRR. However, the Vikings do boast the best NRR so far, with 0.639.

Derbyshire are behind Yorkshire only on NRR, with two games in hand after they missed last weekend due to hosting the West Indies in a tour game. Three games in four days represents a tough schedule but they do play both Worcestershire and Durham, who cannot qualify.

Three victories will guarantee both qualification, and a home quarter final, whilst two would also be enough for a top four spot, as long as one of those wins came against Leicestershire on Thursday. Or, if Northants lose to either Yorkshire or Durham, or Birmingham are beaten at Lancashire, and only two Northants wins would deny them a home tie.

Should the Falcons lose to Leicestershire, and beat Worcestershire and Durham, it opens up the possibility of a three or four way tie on 17 points – as explained with Birmingham above – but as with Yorkshire, Derbyshire’s NRR of 0.415 is healthy.

Beating Leicstershire alone could be enough for outright qualification, as long as Lancashire don’t drop a point and Leics go on to lose to Nottinghamshire, but one win would likely see a NRR battle, with up to six teams able to finish on 15 points.

Leicestershire’s campaign looked over after five defeats in a row, but back to back wins over Northants and Yorkshire last weekend kept the Foxes alive, ahead of final week games at home to Derby on Thursday before traveling to Nottinghamshire on Friday.

Two wins will secure qualification unless Northants win both their games. If they do should Derbyshire win their other two, having been beaten by Leicestershire, and Birmingham beat Lancashire, that would see Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Birmingham all level on 17 points battling for two spots, with Leicestershire’s NRR the weakest.

A win against Derbyshire, before losing at Trent Bridge, could be enough for outright qualification, but only if Northants beat Yorkshire, Derbyshire also lose at Worcestershire and Durham, and Lancashire fail to win both their games. More likely is that one Foxes win would see that NRR battle on 15 points.

Lancashire sit seventh on 11 points and know that only two wins will realistically be enough. A tie/no results would only qualify should Leicestershire and Derbyshire take a point against each, and go on to lose their remaining games, and Yorkshire fail to beat Northants, leading to a tie on 14 points for the final spot.

Should Lancashire beat Worcestershire on Wednesday and Birmingham on Friday, both at Old Trafford, 15 points would only qualify outright should the above scenario play out. As long as there is a winner between Derbyshire and Leicestershire, wins for Birmingham and Northants, as well as Derbyshire taking three points, Lancashire would be knocked out. Otherwise they could muscle in on the NRR battle for the final spot.

Click here to see the South Group permutations.

Foxes down Northants to keep Blast hopes alive

Mark Cosgrove and Cameron Delport starred as Leicesteshire’s experienced heads kept alive their hopes of qualifying from in the Natwest T20 Blast, beating Northamptonshire by 48 runs at Wantage Road, the Foxes first win in six games.

Since winning their opening four group games, Leicestershire had fallen to five defeats, with a washout in between, but Delport hit 59, followed by Mark Cosgrove’s 79 as the Foxes posted 193-5.

Adam Rossington hit 67 for the Steelbacks, who were well in the hunt at 103-2 from 12 overs, but spectacularly collapsed, Delport removing 3-19 with his medium pace as the hosts lost five wickets for eight runs, eventually falling well short.

The win sees Leicstershire move to 11 points, just two from the top four, and a campaign that looked to be coming off the rails now has hope, ahead of a crunch tie against Yorkshire at Grace Road tomorrow afternoon.

Northants meanwhile will be looking over their shoulders. Birmingham’s defeat at Trent Bridge means they remain second, but their cushion to fifth place is now a single point, as the North group looks set to go to the wire next week.

Steelbacks captain Alex Wakely pulled no punches in describing his sides poor display, but is hopeful they can bounce back at Yorkshire next Thursday, before finishing at home to Durham.

“We’ve been very poor tonight. It could hurt us with the run rate. That’s the frustrating thing for me tonight,” he said. “We’re still in a good position. If we can win one or two we’re pretty much going to be there.

“But tonight we haven’t put in a very good performance at all. We were poor with the ball and never got going with the back, apart from Rosso who played a superb innings to keep us in it.

“It’s the nature of T20. I’m happy we’ve got our bad performance out the way.

“We’ve got two crunch games next week. We’ve been pretty lucky: we’ve usually picked up wickets in the powerplay. Today we didn’t, and you’re always trying to claw it back.

“One of the things we’ve been good at at Northants is bouncing back from defeats, so hopefully we can do so again.”

For all of Leicestershire’s dominance pretty much throughout the contest, it could have been different had Cosgrove been run out when on just three.

Luke Ronchi and Delport had got the Foxes off to a flyer, adding 50 in the first five overs, Delport pulling Rory Kleivneldt for back to back sixes, before the latter fell to a fine Rob Keogh catch, running backwards from points.

With the score 58-1 from the powerplay, it was the next over when Cosgrove tried to drop and run into the off side, and the Australian had given up by the time Steven Crook reached the ball, but his throw on the turn was wide of the stumps.

Instead, Ronchi and Cosgrove could build on the opening stand as Northants once against struggled for penetration in the middle overs. Their lack of spin options was showing, as Ronchi added further maximums against Crook and Keogh.

Ronchi went to 50 in 30 balls, one of his more measured knocks, only to hole out as Sanderson returned.

Cosgrove carried on his way, and Wakely’s decision to bowl Zaif Saib’s left arm spin in the 15th over backfired as Cosgrove lifted two sixes to go to his half century.

Colin Ackermann, caught behind off Azharullah, and Luke Wells, comically run out by Gleeson in his follow through after keeper Rossington had missed, fell in quick succession. But Lewis Hill joined Cosgrove to add 30.

Gleeson was economical, as his last two overs cost five apiece, but it couldn’t stop the Foxes passing 190, Cosgrove with his fourth six off Azharullah in the last before being run out attempting to keep strike.

However, 193 would prove more than enough, as Northants never really recovered from falling to 19-2 in the third over.

Levi pulled Clint McKay for six in the opening over, but in the second toe ended a slog sweep off the spin of Callum Parkinson to hole out to deep midwicket for 12, before Duckett was trapped LBW to McKay second ball.

Rossington kept the boundary count flowing, eight inside the powerplay as the Steelbacks reached 54-2 and with Alex Wakely they kept hopes alive, going to the halfway point 85-2.

However, it only needed a tight couple of overs, and with 91 needed from 8 overs something had to give. Wakely couldn’t quite clear the leg side boundary, Wells taking the catch on the edge of the rope.

Rossington then also picked out Wells, this time at long-on off Delport, an even better catch leaning back on the edge of the rope. From that point the hosts capitulated, Rossington having hit 10 fours and a six in his 47 balls knock.

Keogh followed Rossington’s suit later in Delport’s over, to give Wells a third catch. Kleinveldt slapped Pillans to mid-off and, when Delport bowled Zaib sweeping, five wickets had fallen for eight runs in 17 balls.

The rest proved a formality as Steven Crook and Ben Sanderson played out the remaining five overs, only reducing the margin of defeat as the packed home crowd went off into the night.

Bresnan and Lyth star as Yorkshire take Roses honours

Skipper Tim Bresnan took Yorkshire’s first ever Twenty20 six-wicket haul and effected a run-out in the final over to seal the second leg of the first ever Roses double for Yorkshire at Headingley, the Yorkshire Diamonds having triumphed over Lancashire Thunder earlier in the day.

Young leg spinner Matt Parkinson kept Lancashire in the vital clash with four wickets in just 16 deliveries, but the veteran all-rounder produced the best figures in Yorkshire Twenty20 history under a sponge of rain to give a record-breaking finish to a terrific day of cricket.

Yorkshire’s intent was clear from the beginning, when Tom Kohler-Cadmore belted Steven Croft’s second ball into the stands underneath the pavilion for six.

Lyth joined the party an over later, swinging through his hips to dispatch Junaid Khan over square leg. He crunched the final ball of Khan’s over for a straight six, which teased two converging fielders.

Long-standing fans of Adam Lyth’s were reminded of his superb relay catches with Aaron Finch three years ago. Lancashire came nowhere near to repeating those memorable moments.

The carnage continued for the visiting side, with both Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore clearing and finding the boundary ropes with ease. The highlights came thick and fast, and Lancashire’s prize overseas seamer Ryan McLaren was reduced to a bowling machine as Lyth took him for 20 off the fifth over, including a six over long on that reached the second tier.

A squally rain moved across the ground towards the end of the powerplay, but the Yorkshire fans’ enthusiasm was unabated as Lyth crunched an uppish cut to Junaid Khan to set the welcome pyrotechnics flaring once more.

As Croft skipped through to plan D in his mind, Stephen Parry was welcomed to the bowling attack with a belting six from Kohler-Cadmore.

Lyth reached 50 with a brace off his 31st delivery, but perished in the same over when he failed to clear Liam Livingstone on the boundary edge. Livingstone turned to the Yorkshire supporters behind him and blew them a kiss, acknowledging their jeers for previously sliding on the wet surface.

To avoid further conflict, no doubt, the umpires swiftly ushered the players off the field as the rain grew denser.

The game restarted less than half an hour later. The delay worked to Lancashire’s advantage, as they had time to regroup, and young leg spinner Matt Parkinson (whose first-class average is better than Mason Crane’s, incidentally) had Kohler-Cadmore caught on the straight boundary by his captain, for his second scalp of the evening.

He took his third in his third over, and it was another batsman (this time David Willey) hitting overconfidently into the wind and being caught comfortably on the boundary.

Sarfraz Ahmed followed for 3 when Croft sprinted 35 yards from his position on the rope, to take a brilliant diving catch. Parkinson finished with 4-23, excellent returns especially considering the fortunes of his more experienced teammates.

Despite the stuttering middle overs and lacklustre finish, Yorkshire still posted 182-7 thanks to the blazing start from the openers.

Liam Livingstone flickered a candle at the start of the run chase, but Tim Bresnan deceived him and had both Livingstone and Karl Brown caught in his first over. He could have added Aaron Lilley with the final delivery, but Sarfraz Ahmed failed to hold on diving to his right.

Lilley was given another life by Sarfraz on one, when the Pakistan captain failed to complete a fairly simple stumping. In the end, it took a gravity-defying screamer from Jack Leaning on the boundary. Open a new tab and find the video of it now. You’ll thank me.

Go on, I’ll wait.

Ready? Jos Buttler arrived at the crease with his unique blend of humility and swagger, clearing the ropes with his third ball. After he was caught and bowled by Pattrerson, Steven Croft played an admirable lone hand in Lancashire’s chase.

His demise, though, also came in the form of redemption for Sarfraz Ahmed. With Croft on 62, and his team needing 58 off 23 for victory, he was stumped off Adil Rashid and the White Rose fans were settling in for the formalities of a comfortable win.

Tim Bresnan destroyed Ryan McLaren’s off stump in the next over, as a second wave of rain began to drift aesthetically over the stadium. A beer snake broke up in the Western Terrace, voices slurred with beer and victory-induced merriment chanted along to ‘Hey Jude’, and the rain thickened and quickened as the end approached.

Captain Bresnan was tasked with defending 23 off the final over, and he had two batsmen holed out on the boundary, ran out Stephen Parry, and bowled Junaid Khan to keep his team in the running for a quarter-final spot and crucially secure bragging rights at the end of a difficult week for Yorkshire.

Davidson-Richards helps Diamonds to Roses victory

A fine all-round contribution from Alice Davidson-Richards, and the gutsy leg spin of Katie Levick, secured a comfortable win over Lancashire Thunder for Yorkshire Diamonds, in their opening match of the Kia Super League at Headingley.

The difference in the quality of the teams’ fielding, particularly in the catching department, proved decisive after Lea Tahuhu missed an early chance to remove Diamonds captain Lauren Winfield.

Winfield got off the mark with a healthy edge that beat the despairing dive of wide third man. It was Sri Lankan vice-captain Chamari Atapattu, however, who looked more assured early on, guiding Jess Jonassen’s left-arm spin gently but firmly for four in the second over and pulling Lea Tahuhu authoritatively for four through midwicket in the third.

Atapattu is only part of the Yorkshire Diamonds squad because of an injury to Beth Mooney, and rose to prominence by smashing 178* against Australia in the Women’s World Cup. Her love affair with destroying Australian bowling continued as she thumped two consecutive deliveries from Jonassen for four.

When Winfield had just six runs, Tahuhu failed to hold onto a relatively simple return catch at head height. The mistake was punished as Winfield grew in confidence: she emulated her opening partner’s grace with a delightful drive through extra cover that exasperated the boundary fielders, to take her to 17.

Atapattu was herself dropped shortly after the Diamonds reached 64-0, at the halfway stage. A typically confident stroke flew straight to Jess Jonassen, but the ball fell from her grasp to the visible ire of her teammates. After hitting another drive perilously close to the fielder, Atapattu changed her bat.

Her luck ran out a few balls later, though, when she was caught on the boundary by Emma Lamb. Sophie Devine joined Winfield, and deposited Danielle Hazell over the ropes before being caught attempting an identical boundary off the next ball.

Winfield took on the aggressive role when Tahuhu returned, punishing a rank full toss with a clean six, but she perished chasing her half-century when Amy Satterthwaite held on to a terrific blind catch as the ball came sharply over her shoulder. It was a rare moment of brilliance in a fielding performance littered with costly errors.

Katherine Brunt compounded Tahuhu’s tough start to the Super League, bludgeoning 17 off her final over including a marvellous straight six to leave the New Zealand international with figures of 1-42 off her four. Her quickfire 31 along with a highly impressive cameo of 22 off 13 from Alice Davidson-Richards left Thunder needing 163 to win.

Brunt’s belligerence continued into the Thunder innings: her bowling was disciplined and hostile, and kept the openers from dominating during the powerplay.

The required rate kept climbing despite a relatively comfortable start for the Thunder openers, but the difference between the sides became clear when Sophie Devine clung on to a superb catch to dismiss Emma Lamb.

The energy and purpose the Diamonds showed in the field had been sorely lacking for the Thunder, and it was a huge factor in the outcome of the match.

Thunder remained within touching distance of the Diamonds until Winfield threw the ball to Davidson-Richards for the tenth over. With her first ball, she clattered Eve Jones’s stumps to pile even more pressure on the visiting side. In her second over, she also removed Jess Jonassen as Atapattu claimed a high, spiralling catch.

Jonassen did not play in the World Cup match, in which Atapattu destroyed her compatriots’ bowling attack, but she is unlikely to be joining the Sri Lankan’s fan club after being tormented by her in both innings at Headingley.

Yorkshire’s tenacious ability to hold on to their chances came to the fore again when Satterthwaite holed out to long off, to give leg spinner Katie Levick her second wicket. She claimed her third when Danielle Hazell danced down the wicket and was cheerily stumped by Anna Nicholls.

Levick and Davidson-Richards finished with 3-30 and 3-20 respectively, proving definitively that there is far more to this year’s Kia Super League than the chance to bask in the glory of England’s World Cup stars.

Humble Hameed remains focused on Lancashire

Haseeb Hameed has reaffirmed his aim to regain his spot in England’s Test side, but is focused solely on Lancashire’s success in the closing weeks of the season.

The 20-year-old scored a second-innings 77* against Hampshire, a match that ended in a draw after the final two days were lost to bad weather – his side take eight points while the hosts take nine, leaving both 41 points behind Division One leaders Essex.

It was his first half-century since his knock in Mohali during the winter tour of India, in which he broke the little finger on his left hand.

Despite continued talk over who will partner Alastair Cook in this winter’s Ashes, and chairman of selectors James Whitaker being in attendance for his Southampton innings, Hameed is keeping his goals grounded.

“I think I’m just focused on trying to perform well for Lancashire right now,” he said, “At the same time I’m hopeful and confident that if I can do that for Lancashire then further honours will come, but there’s a process for getting there.

“Everyone wants to play for England and that’s definitely my ambition and aim to get back there as soon as possible, [but] there’s a process and for me it’s about scoring runs for Lancashire now and hopefully that call will come.

His innings here was exactly what those who watched him last season would expect: unhindered by scoreboard pressure, assured in defence, controlled in rare moments of attack.

Coming into 2017, Hameed had expressed a desire to play all three formats – he played all of Lancashire’s Royal London One-Day Cup matches, with two fifties.

This was, however, his first foray into a shorter format at Old Trafford and despite a concurrent dip in four-day form, he is hesitant to place blame on the transition.

He said: “It would be quite easy for me to say that, because last year I didn’t play white-ball cricket and then this year I played 50 over stuff, and I’ve not done as well in four day. Maybe there’s a correlation.

“But it’s important moving forwards that I continue to develop and learn. It is challenging changing formats, although my game doesn’t change too much for white ball, it does require me to take more risks and adjust.

“I think I was quite determined to put what’s happened in the last few months to one side and approach it as a season of two halves, because I’ve had a three week gap; the opportunity to go away and work on my game and approach this half of the season positively.

“It was nice to get that confidence and that feeling of having scored runs again. That’s the main thing. When you haven’t tasted success for a while sometimes you can get a little bit more uncomfortable. Scoring runs is a way of getting that confidence back.

“Hopefully I can look back on the last few months and say ‘you know what, this is what made me a better player than if things had just gone my way from the word go’.”

Having not played in the Natwest T20 Blast, Hameed has been afforded a short break from first team cricket, playing for Formby CC in Liverpool and scoring a century for the second XI two weeks ago.

And, on Friday, he took part in an England net session with batting coach Mark Ramprakash, which he says was very helpful ahead of the Hampshire trip.

“Ramps is very confident in me, understanding and knowing my game. He doesn’t try to tinker with it too much. I’m sure that if there is something he thinks will benefit me, then he will tell me.

“In that instance there was nothing he told me. If anything, he was just reassuring me and giving me the confidence that my game is in a good place so I can approach this game with confidence.”