Yorkshire 151 for 5 (Kohler-Cadmore 46*) beat Worcestershire 150 for 5 (Ali 46*, Bess 3-15) by five wickets
It is tempting to say that this was a picnic for Yorkshire, but apparently such things are not allowed at New Road with several of them confiscated recently on spurious security reasons as spectators entered the ground. Anyway, you get the gist: Yorkshire won this one with five wickets and 32 balls to spare to keep their quarter-final ambitions bubbling. And Worcestershire, poor Worcestershire, with one win in 11, have rarely looked so downcast.
One of the North Group’s pivotal matches is now scheduled for Wantage Road on Friday night. Yorkshire have closed to within one point of Northants with a game in hand. They are about to welcome back David Willey from England’s tour of the Netherlands, but Dawid Malan, another tourist, is again managing his long-standing achilles injury and will miss the most important match of the season. Adil Rashid is also taking leave from county and England duties to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
If Yorkshire reach the quarter-finals, they will also have to find a replacement for Finn Allen, who has been recalled for New Zealand’s white-ball squads for Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands.
What has happened to Worcestershire? They appear to be a shadow of the side that has been skippered so inspirationally by Moeen Ali in recent seasons. They have drawn every ounce of ability from themselves, winning the tournament in 2018 and finishing runners-up a year later, but Moeen has only managed four games this season, without much of an impact, as he wrestles, at 35, with how best to see out the remainder of his career.
Even defending an under-par 150 for 5, they could have made Yorkshire labour because there was something in the pitch and they had chances to make inroads into Yorkshire’s all-important top four. When Josh Baker dropped Allen on 1 – racing from third man to spill a pull over the batter’s own head – it proved not to be costly as Allen soon hoisted another skier into the leg side. But dropping Tom Kohler-Cadmore on 7 had more of an impact. OK, so the guy with the big gloves on often takes the catch, but Gareth Roderick’s claim as he dashed into the leg side was taking it a bit too far when such a reliable fielder as Ed Barnard was stood there, facing the right direction, perfectly capable of taking it himself.
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Kohler-Cadmore went on to make an unbeaten 46 against his former county and that was enough to ease Yorkshire home with the help of cameos from Adam Lyth and Harry Brook.
Worcestershire could take solace from the display of Mitchell Stanley, the latest quick bowler to develop through their Academy, and who looked strong and willing in returning 2 for 40: two good wickets, too, Allen and Brook, the latter failing to clear mid-off with a front-foot thrash. Shadab Khan, the Pakistan allrounder, has yet to catch light with bat or ball – an excessive move outside leg stump to be caught at the wicket being his latest dismissal and Yorkshire will hope that like many top players he delivers when the pressure is at its highest.
That Worcestershire made 150 for 5 was something of an escape because with four overs remaining, they were up a siding at 99 for 5. They added 51 from the last four because of two of the lesser-known figures of the Blast – Kashif Ali, Kashmir born, who has played 2nd XI cricket for five counties in an attempt to make the grade, and Gareth Roderick, who has made no T20 impact since he signed from Gloucestershire for the 2021 season and who had averaged 12 in his 32 previous T20 matches. Kashif is also the first product of the South Asian Cricket Academy to sign a contract with a first-class county. When he hit Waite for successive sixes in an over costing 24 runs, those who devised this vital rescue net in an imperfect county system deserved their satisfaction.
It was an unlikely pairing to rescue Worcestershire’s innings, but they amassed an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 73 in 46 balls, much of it in inferior light. Most of those were in a two-over flurry against Jordan Thompson and Matthew Waite which leaked 41 runs. The rest of the Worcestershire side managed only four fours and two sixes between them.
Ed Pollock’s horrendous season since his move from Warwickshire continued – an uppercut to third man representing his latest demise – and Matthew Revis, whose bowling has been Yorkshire’s find of the season, swung one away from Brett D’Oliveira to have him caught at the wicket.
Most delight, though, rested with Dom Bess, who returned T20-best figures of 3 for 15, and who may have never have bowled his offspinners so consistently fast or flat. Bess has been lightly used by Yorkshire, surprisingly so considering that his career economy rate is only 7.63 runs per over, and the lack of experience in Yorkshire’s pace attack. Yet previously this season he had bowled only 13 overs in nine matches and taken one wicket.
Perhaps they have been concerned with undermining his four-day rhythm, but they need to risk it because the Championship is as good as lost and it is in T20 where they might just deliver the prediction of their outgoing captain, Willey, to leave them a T20 trophy as a parting gift at the end of the season. To do that, he must disappoint the county he is about to join. Such is the sporting life.