Yorkshire 226 for 8 (Kohler-Cadmore 73, Lyth 40) beat Birmingham 176 for 4 (Hose 43, Bell 43, de Grandhomme 37*) by 31 runs (D/L method)
Speculation that Adil Rashid would never play for Yorkshire again proved to be wide of the mark as Headingley opted instead for a display of harmony. Barely 24 hours after he ended his self-imposed red-ball retirement to answer England’s call for the first Test against India, and wrath descended from Staithes to Settle upon England’s selectors as a result, he was back in Yorkshire’s Vitality Blast team at Headingley.
Not just back but fulfilled. As Birmingham Bears fell 31 runs short of a rain-adjusted target of 208 in 18 overs, Rashid’s three overs, delivered with an expression of intense concentration, conceded only 19 when the required rate was virtually double that. Yorkshire could not have looked more businesslike.
It took only four balls for Rashid to underline that, as a white-ball cricketer at least, he has never looked more mature. Sam Hain fell lbw to a googly and when the over was completed with only three runs to his name, the applause was warm and encouraging. Yorkshire have four wins in six, but Birmingham, finalists last year, remain near the foot of North Group.
The disgust at England’s decision to call upon Rashid when he has stood down from Championship cricket is widespread in these parts, but this T20 crowd sounded eager for rapprochement. So was this a recognition that once the opportunity was offered it was natural for Rashid to say yes, was it a determination that the affair should not escalate into personal animosity or are there two Yorkshires at play here – the Championship traditionalists who expect him to serve all forms of the game, and the T20 crowd who are more interested in star quality and a good night out?
Was there ever any doubt that Rashid should play? “No,” said their captain, Steve Patterson, a seasoned seamer who is little known outside the county, but a straightforward man who does not gloss over issues, but cuts to the quick like paint stripper. That Rashid will remain at Yorkshire is by no means certain, but his selection was another signal that Yorkshire would prefer him to rediscover his loyalties.
“He was exceptional,” Patterson said. “He was professional like I expected him to be. I asked if his mind was clear and he said ‘absolutely’ and he showed how valuable he is.”
He now moves to Edgbaston to prepare for the Test, and if selected will don the whites he had imagined he would not need this summer, while Yorkshire must face a rush of Blast matches without him.
That Yorkshire feel that a principle is at stake in Rashid’s selection is undeniable. There is only so much the first-class counties can soak up if they are to retain credibility. But they have nurtured Rashid since he was a child and want to keep him. There will be many rival suitors.
Yorkshire’s total was daunting – their fourth highest in T20s, all of them made in the past year, and owing much to the highest Powerplay of the Blast season – 92 in six overs, set on the way by the destructive opening partnership of Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.
Lyth is Yorkshire’s poker-faced flyer, more dangerous by the season, whose crunches are as apple-crispy as a Ribston Pippin. Kohler-Cadmore is more of a lamb shank, his blows strong and meaty and leg-side heavy. It takes a confident county, with a high-class opening partnership, both to value the return of Kane Williamson, a world-class batsman, and ask him to forego his IPL opening position and bat at No 4.
On this occasion, it all worked a treat: Lyth 40 from 16; Kohler-Cadmore registering Yorkshire’s third-fastest T20 fifty, from 20 balls, as he made 73 from 30; before Williamson’s intelligent 49 from 30 kept the momentum in the second half of the innings.
Overshadowed by England’s call to Rashid was the omission of Chris Woakes, with both Sam Curran and Jamie Porter preferred. The assessment that Woakes was short of rhythm, evident in his last Championship appearance at Lord’s, again looked a sound one as he was first hit off his length then missed his yorkers. Lyth took 24 in five balls off his first over, beginning with a flipped six. When Lyth fell to a slower ball, it came with a Woakes head-shake.
Boyd Rankin, like Woakes, bled 25 from his opening over, his head-shake coming when Kohler-Cadmore’s fierce return drive, on 33, burst through his hands. Olly Stone bowled Kohler-Cadmore as he defeated a leg-side heave, but with Yorkshire 135 for 3 and the innings barely passed midway, the damage had been done.
Rashid’s night began quietly – a first-ball duck off the penultimate ball, the dregs after Yorkshire had drunk their fill – but he saved his best for those who stuck it out after a delay for a thunder shower caused Birmingham’s total to be recalculated.
Birmingham never formulated a response. Ed Pollock still possesses the fastest strike rate in the world but this season he can’t get a big score to make a real impact. Ian Bell was expertly cramped in making 42 from 33 and eventually shovelled Liam Plunkett into the leg side. Adam Hose struck out vainly, but the target was more than 30 an over when he holed out at long-on with two overs left.
Only the problems the workmen in hard hats had hunting out a six or two in the half-completed Rugby Stand delayed Yorkshire’s victory. The night had started with a suspicion that Rashid might have needed that hard hat. He finished it metaphorically doffing his cap. There are some tough negotiations ahead, but it was a start.