Yorkshire carried to victory by Bevan

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The Independent Online
reports from Headingley

Lancashire 169 Yorkshire 170-8 Yorkshire win by two wickets

Predictably billed as the War of the Roses, it was the House of York that was still standing when the smoke cleared - albeit with most of the brickwork shot away. The tension involved in the biggest game for two decades between these fierce trans-Pennine rivals resulted in Lancashire posting a glaringly inadequate total, and Yorkshire coming agonisingly close to bottling it.

When Yorkshire last won the premier one-day competition, in 1969, it was sponsored by a razor-blade company, and it is a moot point as to how many of their supporters would have considered drawing something sharp across a major artery had the home team not finally squeezed home by two wickets with three balls to spare in this NatWest quarter-final yesterday.

Yorkshire were apparently past the winning post when, chasing 170 to win, they were 121 for 4 with more than half the 60 overs remaining. But a superb spell of off-spin bowling from Gary Yates allowed Lancashire to apply the slow throttle, and the crunch came when Darren Gough was bowled by Ian Austin in the 57th over.

With 15 required off 23 balls from the last three wickets, Gough's cross- batted heave was a by no means unique example of the fact that in situations calling for a cool head, Gough's cranium is the kind you could boil a kettle on. Before Yorkshire knew it, they wanted a run a ball off the final 15 deliveries, and by that time had become second favourites.

However, the Australian Test left-hander Michael Bevan then effectively settled the game off the next three balls from Glen Chapple. A four through the covers, a two behind square, and another four wide of midwicket relieved most of the pressure, and it was finally Peter Hartley who made the winning hit midway through the final over.

Bevan, not surprisingly, won the man of the match award for his 60 not out, although it might have been a different outcome had he not survived a desperately close lbw appeal from Wasim Akram when he was on five, and Yorkshire 48 for 2.

Very early on, Bevan had decided that he only had to stay in to see Yorkshire through, but without that late assault on Chapple, Yorkshire would probably have suffered the embarrassment of losing without being bowled out.

By the time Lancashire won the toss and chose to bat, the ground was already close to full, and eventually 18,900 were admitted, and 2,000 locked out. Not everyone inside found a seat - and with people perched on the roof of sponsored boxes, it was not just the oppressive heat and intense cricket which made people giddy.

Gough chose to play despite being counselled otherwise by Raymond Illingworth, and in his second over was so delighted at having the England captain caught behind that he celebrated by pretending to be an aeroplane.

In fact, Illingworth's concern over Gough's foot injury is based on a jarring run-up reminiscent of a Tiger Moth attempting to take off from a field, and Gough's bowling action does not look entirely suited to longevity.

This, though, was a short-term mission against the deadly enemy, and Gough's presence was an indication of what was at stake. Lancashire, inasmuch as it is possible in 90F temperatures, all but froze, and a slow but true pitch had nothing to do with them being bowled out for 169 with 39 deliveries unused.

A series of poor shots saw Lancashire decline to 47 for 4 before Neil Fairbrother and Mike Watkinson pulled them round with a partnership of 70 in 21 overs. Crucially, though, Fairbrother and the dangerous Wasim Akram were dismissed in consecutive overs, and the innings (like one or two spectators) was never resuscitated.

Emburey's tour appointment, Scoreboard, page 21

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