Yorkshire’s batting let them down again on the way to their sixth Friends Life t20 defeat in nine matches this season as Nottinghamshire Outlaws returned to the top of the North Division with a six-wicket win at Trent Bridge.
A loss of three wickets for eight runs in three overs through the middle of the innings hamstrung the Vikings, who had elected to bat first. Reasonably well placed at 62-2 after nine overs, they could only post 132-7.
All-rounder Rich Pyrah top-scored with a career best 42 off 25 balls in the second half of the innings, including six fours and a sweetly timed six over cover off New Zealand international Ian Butler as the overs ticked down.
The form of Pyrah has arguably been Yorkshire’s biggest plus during this campaign, especially with his economical bowling.
But, unfortunately, he and his bowling colleagues had been left with too much against a strong Outlaws batting line-up chasing a quarter-final berth.
There was a brief glimmer of hope for Yorkshire with the ball in hand because Notts slipped to 23-2 with the losses of Michael Lumb and Samit Patel, who had earlier returned 3-17 from four overs of left-arm spin, to Adam Lyth and Jack Brooks.
But Alex Hales top-scored with a 62 off 38 balls to calm any nerves and help seal the win with 23 balls to spare.
After the early losses of debutant Alex Lees and number three Dan Hodgson, leaving the score at 17-2 early in the fourth over, Gary Ballance and Lyth hit back impressively during a six-over alliance for the third wicket.
They added 46 on the way to individual scores of 30 and 23 respectively.
Ballance then holed out to long-off against Graeme White’s left-arm spin, Lyth chopped on to Jake Ball and Jack Leaning was run out following a mix-up with another debutant Will Rhodes, leaving the score at 71-5 after 12.
Pyrah then did his best to resurrect the innings as he shared stands of 37 inside six overs overs for the sixth wicket with Rhodes and 23 in two and a half with Liam Plunkett for the seventh. He hit successive boundaries off Harry Gurney to end the 18th and then smoked Butler over cover for six to end the 19th.
After Lumb found Pyrah at cover off a Lyth full toss in the third over of the Notts reply, Patel punched Brooks to the same man in the same position in the fourth to get the home chase off to a shaky start.
But Hales calmed any nerves with two sixes in the fifth over off Iain Wardlaw, which went for 18 in total.
In all, Hales hit four fours and five sixes on the way to his first fifty of the season in this form. And by the time he skied Azeem Rafiq to Ballance at long-off in the eleventh over, leaving the score at 85-3, the damage had been done.
Plunkett later bowled David Hussey for 28 before Rikki Wessels hit Wardlaw for four to finish proceedings at the start of the 17th over. Brooks was Yorkshire’s bowling pick with 1-11 from three overs.
Yorkshire travel to Grace Road to face Leicestershire on Sunday and wrap up their 2013 Twenty20 campaign.
Brooks said: “We are leaving ourselves too much to do, whether it be after the first six or at the halfway stage when we are going out to bowl. We can’t be expected to defend 130 every game, especially in modern Twenty20. We are falling 30 or 40 short, sometimes just 10 or 15 short.
“It’s something that needs to be addressed. Today was quite a young middle order, but these guys need to learn quickly. We haven’t bowled or fielded badly in the whole tournament. We’ve had two games where we’ve got whacked. In Twenty20, that’s going to happen every now and again.
“You’ve got to get some scores on the board, and then maybe we could have squeezed out wins.”
Wednesday’s Friends Life t20 defeat against Lancashire has left the Vikings with a point to prove tomorrow.
Yorkshire head down the M1 to Trent Bridge to face Nottinghamshire in their penultimate North Division match determined not to go out with a whimper.
Defeat to the old foes from across the Pennines by eight wickets with nine overs to spare was “a bitter pill to swallow” according to director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon, who wants a reaction under lights.
Yorkshire went to Trent Bridge last season knowing that a win would see them into the quarter-finals, but this time unfortunately it is about them not finishing bottom of the group having only won two of eight fixtures so far.
“We’ve obviously not played anywhere near as well as we did last season,” said the former White Rose and England opening batsman.
“We’ve obviously got different personnel, and some of them are still learning their trade in Twenty20 cricket. We’ve got to learn, and it’s up to the players to try and take in the experience and try to improve and be better as a result of it.”
The Outlaws are still chasing a quarter-final place, so this is not a dead game by any means. And Moxon admitted that he will not be making many changes tomorrow.
“We’ve not got too many options other than the really young Academy players,” he said. “Some of them are going off to the England under 19s after the weekend, so we’ll stick with the lads and try to get our processes right and get a bit of confidence back over the next few games.
“We are disappointed with our Twenty20 form. It’s been below what we hoped for and expected. We’ve got a lot of work to do looking forward to the next two games and into next season.”
One major positive this season has been the form with the ball of Rich Pyrah, who has taken nine wickets in eight appearances. He has an impressive economy rate of 5.88 runs per over, although that took a bit of a hit with 0-14 from one over last night.
“I’ve been quite flexible this year because I’ve bowled in the powerplay, in the middle and at the death as well,” he added. “I’m obviously pleased with the way it’s gone, but disappointed it’s not got us through to the quarter-finals.
Yorkshire’s last Twenty20 match of 2013 is against Leicestershire at Grace Road on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Joe Sayers miss the game sustaining a thigh injury against Lancashire. Ryan Sidebottom is rested with Jack Brooks returning. Yorkshire have also drafted in Moin Ashraf, Alex Lees and Will Rhodes into a 13-man squad.
If you can’t make it to any of the Friends Life T20 games you can hear ball-by-ball commentary on Yorkshire Radio – Official Media Partner of YCCC with summary from former Yorkshire Captain Anthony McGrath.
You can listen to Yorkshire Radio on DAB across Yorkshire, Sky Channel 0209, on-line atwww.yorkshireradio.netand on free apps for iphone and android smart phones. Plus don’t miss hearing from the squad and management every Monday at 6pm on The Yorkshire Radio Cricket Show.