There is only one county who has qualified for the top division of the County Championship and reached the knockout stages in both limited overs competitions in 2021. Yorkshire are having one heck of a season so far. But it can get so much better, starting against Essex tomorrow.
The White Rose county head into their Eliminator clash with Essex at Chelmsford (11am), an effective quarter-final, with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Yorkshire fielded six List A debutants throughout the Group B campaign in Harry Duke, George Hill, Will Luxton, Matthew Revis, Jack Shutt and Josh Sullivan, and they finished third on 10 points with four victories.
The latest of those was yesterday at Glamorgan when the Vikings squeezed the life out of a home chase of 231 which had reached 123-1 in 30 overs.
In the end, the Welsh side, who finished top of the group and advanced straight to a home semi-final at Cardiff on Monday – they are the opponents who lie in wait for either Essex or Yorkshire – failed to get 11 off the last over and finished on 226-8.
Yorkshire now face an Essex side who finished second in Group A and boast significant experience in the form of former internationals Sir Alastair Cook, Simon Harmer, Ryan ten Doeschate and captain Tom Westley.
While Yorkshire have lost 10 players to the Hundred, they have only lost three.
“We’ve already said that this competition has been a success. So whatever happens from here is a bonus,” said RL50 coach Rich Pyrah, who will come up against his old pal in Essex coach Anthony McGrath.
“And knowing these young lads, they’ll thrive on playing against the Cooks and the Harmers. All I’ve said to them is, ‘Keep learning’.
“It’s great for them, isn’t it! We’ll let the young lads go and play now.
“Why not go to Essex and beat them? We’ve shown we can perform under pressure.
“It will be great to see them in a knockout game against an experienced team and see how they go. It only takes a couple of match-winning performances.
“The pressure’s on them (Essex), and we’re going to go and enjoy it. We’ll see what happens.”
Like Yorkshire, Essex also pulled a game out of the fire yesterday, though were already qualified prior to their tie against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.
Needing 22 off the last over to win, chasing 251, seamer Jack Plom faced a dot and got a single at the start of the over bowled by Steven Croft. Harmer then hammered three sixes and scrambled a two to tie on 250-8 and knock the Red Rose out of the competition.
Jonny Tattersall and George Hill were two of Yorkshire’s stars at Glamorgan.
Tattersall’s 53 led the Vikings recovery from 132-7 to 230 all out before Hill claimed 3-49 as Glamorgan, scared of losing the game by a big margin and losing top spot in the group courtesy of net run-rate, stuttered badly. Hill claimed his three wickets in six balls spanning two overs.
“George just keeps getting better,” said Pyrah. “But, to be honest, they all do the more they play.
“It’s eight games, and from where we started against Surrey at Scarborough to where we are now, we’re a completely different team. That’s what I wanted from this competition.
“Whatever happens in the quarter-final, we’ve got out of it what we wanted – to see young lads improve and show they can do it at first-team level.”
Tattersall has endured a difficult season, losing his first-team place behind the stumps to Duke following a lack of runs. But he has come good over the last few weeks, batting at number six.
He scored an excellent 70 in the win over Warwickshire at Yorkshire at the start of the month before his 53 yesterday.
“The two half-centuries he’s got have been match-winning,” added Pyrah.
“I’m delighted for him because it’s been a tough year. But you go through these patches. He’s coming out of it now, and those two performances have helped us qualify.
“I like him in that position. It would be quite easy to put a senior player up towards the top of innings, but you need somebody who’s calm and reads the game at five and six.”
With the competition’s clash with the Hundred and so many recognised players unavailable across the counties, many followers of the game have disrespectfully called this a second rate competition.
But there has been some brilliant cricket played.
And one thing for sure, Yorkshire’s performances have been first rate as they move to within sight of the domestic summer’s first piece of silverware.
Gary Ballance, Dom Bess, Ben Birkhead, Ben Coad, Harry Duke, Will Fraine, George Hill, William Luxton, Steven Patterson, Mat Pillans, Matthew Revis, Jack Shutt, Josh Sullivan, Jonathan Tattersall, Mat Waite.