- Yorks 296; Lancs 217. Yorks win by 79 runs
Yorkshire, most efficiently, won this Roses Match of a sort - not many roses are bright green, as Lancashire’s players were, unless the aphids get them - and so they should have. Yorkshire’s team contained one-third of England’s Champions Trophy squad: five players to Lancashire’s none.
The most outstanding of the five was Adil Rashid, who tied Lancashire up with his wrist-spin in a bowling partnership with Liam Plunkett. Together they made the petals wilt and fall, so that by 79 runs Yorkshire won their second Royal London One-Day Cup match in a row.
Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow did not make major contributions, perhaps through still being early-season rusty after their lay-offs. In his first home match since being appointed England’s Test captain, Root was royally received by the crowd of 4865, but he slapped a short ball to point - then no doubt slapped himself.
Bairstow threw his helmet into the ring by opening, as he had done in Yorkshire’s first game at Trent Bridge. When a vacancy had arisen in England’s one-day opening partnership in the West Indies, with Alex Hales injured, Sam Billings was promoted, although never an opener for Kent, whereas Bairstow must have felt he had a stronger case, having experienced the second new ball often in Tests.
Here, to further his cause in the event of Jason Roy or Hales being injured in the Champions Trophy, Bairstow scored 28 solidly yet sparkily against the new balls, in spite of one being wielded by James Anderson on a pitch that started damp and under the thickest cloud. Bairstow looked the part until he inside-edged a ball that seamed. It was more his wicketkeeping that was tinged with rust, because he dropped a chance that went to his right hand of the kind that he was dropping until a year ago, but not since for England.
At 87 for three, with their three England Test batsmen out and no more specialists to come, Yorkshire depended on Peter Handscomb, their overseas player from Australia, and their prolific new captain Gary Ballance. They responded with a stand of 143 - the only partnership of 50 on the day - in only 20 overs, culminating in Handscomb trashing 18 off Luke Procter’s over before being caught.
Ballance played fewer big shots yet scored at the same rate. Only once has he been dismissed for less than 50 since taking charge, Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon citing his “positive movements” at the crease. At the rate Ballance is going he is already a candidate for an England recall - but there is also a rough diamond competing for the batting position in the Test side currently occupied by Jos Buttler.
Liam Livingstone scored only 32 but that included what was surely the shot of the season to date. He ran down the pitch to Plunkett, no less, to break the hold which he and Rashid had, and somehow flicked him for six high over fine-leg. Then he ramped Plunkett, the fastest bowler on view, for four and six.
Livingstone seems not to take steps but strides: having entered the Lancashire side last season as a batsman, he not only mastered spin in his two centuries in a “Test” in Sri Lanka but bowled it himself, turning both ways. His batting in the last championship match against Somerset at number three was imperious after he had taken on the captaincy when Steven Croft broke his hand - and he engineered Lancashire’s partial comeback when, after the Handscomb-Ballance stand, they took six Yorkshire wickets for 66 in their last 12.2 overs by using Steven Parry at the death - not Anderson or Ryan McLaren, his two international bowlers.
Afterwards, to show his clarity of mind, Livingstone identified where Lancashire had lost this game: the fact that Handscomb and Ballance had allowed so few dot-balls to pass, whereas “we were a bit dot, dot, four, dot.” He also said that Haseeb Hameed, having scored 88 as an opener in his first white-ball game, had been demoted to three because “we wanted to try and make the most of the first ten overs.” Livingstone might have been right, or wrong, but it was a tenable argument.
England will have a shadow squad in Australia during the Ashes, keeping in practice. Ballance should be there. Livingstone, if he keeps growing at his current pace without being over-awed, should be in the squad itself.