Lancashire 176 for 2 (Livingstone 79, Lilley 42*, Clark 36*) beat Yorkshire 175 for 4 (Lyth 60, Root 51*) by one run
On evenings such as this it is perhaps worth remembering that Liam Livingstone esteems his red-ball cricket above the shorter formats. Certainly as his six sixes sailed into the stands at Emirates Old Trafford the majority of the 22,515 spectators would have found that preference difficult to credit. Then again, they probably didn’t care. All that mattered to Lancashire Lightning’s fans was that Livingstone’s 37-ball 79 was taking his side most of the way to their colossal score of 176 for 2 in a game reduced by early rain to 14 overs-a-side.
Yet so coolly do batsmen regard an asking-rate of 12.57 runs per over in short-form cricket these days – this game’s 28 overs included 23 maximums – that Yorkshire’s batsmen came within one boundary of overhauling Lancashire’s score. Indeed, had Kane Williamson hit the last ball of the innings for four, visiting supporters would have been celebrating a magnificent victory. As it was, Lancashire’s left-arm seamer Toby Lester managed his jangling nerves and restricted Williamson to a couple of runs. Rarely can a cricketer have celebrated bowling three overs for 48 runs quite so ecstatically.
“I’ve never felt that that,” Livingstone said. “It’s probably up there with one of the best games I’ve played in. Toby changed his plan and bowled yorkers at the finish and it was great for him to perform under the pressure of a Roses game. We’ve now won five on the trot and we’re flying.”
But amid the euphoria of the home victory, Lancashire’s fifth in six North Group games this season, there was also proper credit paid to Yorkshire’s batsmen for their extraordinary pursuit. Adam Lyth got things going in grand style by whacking half a dozen sixes in his 26-ball 60 but arguably the most impressive innings was played by Joe Root, whose 22-ball 51 not out proved that orthodox strokes can be quite as effective as clubbing, even when chasing down a massive score.
It was no night for bowlers and not much of a one for fielders. Only Steve Patterson conceded less than ten runs an over and Yorkshire’s spinners, Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq, were particularly wayward, their four overs costing 61 runs. However, Matt Parkinson and Steven Parry disappeared for only ten runs fewer, although Parkinson dismissed both Lyth and David Willey, the first caught at long-on by Livingstone, the second stumped by Buttler for 20. At that point the leg-spinner was on a hat-trick, but it is doubtful if many people noticed that either.
Only three catches were taken all night but the one not properly attempted was decisive. In the first over of Lancashire’s innings Livingstone skied Willey to deepish extra cover. Williamson, Lyth and Patterson all ran to within a few yards of the ball – and left it to each other. Livingstone had made 4.
It was also a pretty damaging night for Old Trafford’s fabric. With when a record crowd filling Old Trafford – the largest for any T20 game outside London excluding Finals Day – the frame of the press box was hit by one of Liam Plunkett’s sixes and the window of the Radio Lancashire box was whacked by Jos Buttler’s only maximum before the ball dropped on to the Yorkshire balcony, from where Martyn Moxon, the county’s director of cricket, returned it to the field. The 7500 folk in the precipitous Foster’s Party Stand, a massive structure which could double as a ski-jump in the winter, also welcomed sixes from each side.
And all of this was missed by Steven Croft, who was left out of Lancashire’s side after making 148 consecutive appearances since his debut in June 2006, an impressive sequence which has left him 11 short of the world record currently held by Suresh Raina of the Chennai Super Kings. Lancashire’s former captain watched the match from the balcony and may have reflected that this was not the short-form game he played a dozen years ago. And in less than a decade you can bet it will be different again.