By George Rogan
Yorkshire continued their impressive start to the Royal London One-Day Cup with a five-wicket victory over Durham.
The Vikings were spearheaded by Johnny Bairstow’s career best score of 174 as they cruised past the 336 target with 14 balls to spare.
Bairstow was the third man to score a century on the day, after both Stephen Cook and Michael Richardson reached three figures for Durham. Joe Root also passed 50 as three players in England’s Champions Trophy squad were involved for Yorkshire.
David Willey and Liam Plunkett were made unavailable by the ECB for Yorkshire, while Durham’s Mark Wood was also made unavailable.
Cook became the mainstay of the Durham innings as they started the match strongly. They raced onto 124-0 before captain Keaton Jennings was caught brilliantly on the boundary by Peter Handscomb for 72. Cook shared another 124-run stand with Richardson before departing for 106 off 114 balls. Tim Bresnan caught him off the bowling of Azeem Rafiq less than two overs after reaching his century.
The Durham innings would then reach a lull as Graham Clark, ex-England captain Paul Collingwood, and Paul Coughlin fell cheaply to leave them 280-5 after being 238-1 just seven overs prior.
Cameron Steel joined Richardson for a late rally in which they scored 56 off the last 31 balls. Richardson would cap off a fine innings with three boundaries in the final over before scoring two off the final ball to finish unbeaten on an 87-ball century.
Yorkshire’s reply started in quick fashion as they raced onto 50 inside 7 overs. Adam Lyth departed soon after though for 16 after pulling Chris Rushworth to deep square leg. This led to England’s new test captain Joe Root joining Bairstow at the crease. The two made a solid start to their partnership with Root happy to play back up to Bairstow’s quicker scoring.
The seventeenth over proved to be pivotal in the outcome of the match as Bairstow was given a lifeline. On 71 he picked out Cook at long-off who dropped the catch and allowed the Yorkshireman to continue his free scoring.
Bairstow made Durham pay for that reprieve as he reached his century in the 23rd over. It came off 70 balls and included 13 boundaries.
In what was described by Bresnan as the greatest innings he has ever seen the big shots from Bairstow would not stop.
He hit Steel for four consecutive boundaries as he approached 150 and an over later he got it with a two off the bowling of James Weighell.
Bairstow’s innings ended in the 34th over after edging behind off Weighell for a magnificent 174. He left the pitch to a standing ovation and Yorkshire needing 87 from the final 16 overs.
Root was bowled a short time later for 55 by Weighell who finished strongly with figures of 3-60 off his ten overs. The game looked to be heading towards a tense conclusion as Yorkshire had been brought back to needing a run a ball from the last 10 overs.
Captain Gary Ballance and Handscomb took control and shared a 71-run partnership to send Yorkshire towards victory. Bresnan then knocked off the winning runs hitting a four off 24-year-old Coughlin.
It would be man of the match Bairstow that acquired all the plaudits as his 16 fours and seven leg-side sixes lead his side to victory. He will be glad to be inform ahead of England’s Champions Trophy campaign next month.
The result means Yorkshire sit top of the North group on six points after three games. Meanwhile, Durham face an uphill battle to qualify after suffering their first defeat which leaves them on one point following a no result and a win. They were also hit with a two-point penalty for financial trouble.