In the eight days from June 27 to July 4 Yorkshire will play five matches in this year’s NatWest Blast. They will play Lancashire, Leicestershire and Durham at home, and Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire away. The first four counties on this list have been regular opponents in the North Group since the competition started in 2003 but Worcestershire were members only in 2010-2011 although the two counties met in a quarter-final game in the following season.
Yorkshire T20 2008
The home side also lost an early wicket when Kyle Hogg bowled Andrew Gale for a duck but wicket-keeper Gerard Brophy (28 from 20 balls) and Michael Vaughan (21 from 12) added a dashing 41 together. McGrath then tried to hold the innings together but Faf du Plessis took two wickets at the same total and this left the home side on 86 for five. Bresnan kept McGrath company for a while but struggled for fluency and his was the first of three wickets to fall for seven runs as Yorkshire collapsed to 121 for eight. The last two wickets fell to Sajid Mahmood whose four overs conceded a miserly 13 runs. McGrath’s 46 had come from 39 balls and Gough joined Adil Rashid with Yorkshire facing defeat. Dominic Cork bowled the 18th over; he conceded four leg byes before Gough hit him for three consecutive fours. This was the game-changing over, it meaning that 13 were needed from the final two overs but the light was fading fast. Seven were gathered from the 19th over and four more leg byes and an expansive cover-drive from Gough settled the matter with two balls remaining.
Although Gough (20 not out from nine balls) played the match-winning innings, McGrath’s all-round contribution gained him the match award. This was Yorkshire’s third successive victory and two more wins from their last five matches, including completing the double over Lancashire, were enough to see them through to a quarter-final place. Unfortunately, Azeem Rafiq had played at Trent Bridge as an unregistered player and so Yorkshire were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition.
Despite their defeats to Yorkshire, Lancashire finished one place higher than their rivals in the North Group and also qualified for the quarter-final stage. They had to travel to The Oval to face Middlesex and came up against a rampant Dawid Malan who thrashed 103 from 54 balls.
Lancashire’s 2008 match heroes:
Malachy Loye was born in Northampton in 1972 and first played for the county of his birth at the age of 18. He was regarded as a very promising player and represented England A just two years later, having previously played for the England U-19 team. He remained with Northamptonshire until the end of the 2002 season and then had seven years with Lancashire before returning to his home county for two final seasons. One season with Buckinghamshire took him almost to his 40th birthday at which point he retired from major cricket.
The highest honour that Loye received was to be the PCA Player of the Year for 1998. This was due reward for him achieving what would remain the best season of his career both in first-class and limited-overs cricket. The former contained a triple-century, made against Glamorgan on his home ground. He was an attacking opening batsman with a wide range of strokes and always played in an enterprising manner. In the winter of 2006/07 he toured Australia with the full England side and played in seven One-Day Internationals but made no great impact and that was the end of his representative career.
Loye played in over 40 Twenty20 matches and scored more than 1200 runs at an average of over 33 and an impressive strike-rate of 132. He scored one century – an innings of exactly 100 made against Durham at Old Trafford in 2005. He made his runs from only 55 balls and shared a second-wicket stand of 160 with Australian Brad Hodge to lead Lancashire to a total in excess of 200 and a 37-run victory.
Gareth Cross was born in Bury in 1984 and attended school in Salford and Eccles; he first came to prominence in the latter part of the 2002 season when, just two months after his 18th birthday, he played in two matches in the C & G Trophy for Lancashire Cricket Board as a wicket-keeper/batsman. His first appearances for the full Lancashire side came three years later and he continued to play for them until the end of the 2013 season when he was released and moved to Derbyshire.
Cross played in 87 20-overs matches for Lancashire scoring over 800 runs at a strike-rate of 128 and including two half-centuries. He captured 76 dismissals and twice played in the semi-final stage of the competition – in 2007 and 2011. For the 2014 season he moved to Derbyshire and has been a regular in their eleven in the Championship as well as the NatWest Blast. He has played in six games in the latter, scored another half-century and taken his run-tally to 953.