Steven Croft admitted Lancashire's disappointment at not winning their Friends Life t20 clash with Yorkshire at Headingley tonight, which finished in an historic tie.
The Lightning all-rounder took a wicket in Yorkshire’s 152-6 and then scored 42 not out off 28 balls in his side’s reply of 152-5, which consisted of nine runs off the last over from Ryan Sidebottom when 10 were needed.
As well as Lancashire bowled, led by spinners Stephen Parry and debutant Arron Lilley, they were not able to convert their distinct advantage from 85-2 at the halfway stage of their reply as the first tie in Roses Twenty20 history was played out.
They slipped to 118-5 midway through the 17th over, and unfortunately failed to get 33 off the last three, 24 off the last two, 10 off the last and three off the last ball as Croft squeezed a full Sidebottom ball out to deep point and ran two with Kabir Ali.
Lancashire were also left frustrated at the manner of Gareth Cross’s dismissal in the 17th when he was bowled off an under edge by Liam Plunkett, although the full toss looked to be over waist height at the point of contact with the bat.
The chances are that umpires Rob Bailey and Neil Bainton missed the under edge and thought the ball dipped at the last minute.
Ironically, a similar decision in the first innings went Yorkshire’s way when Rich Pyrah, who later excelled with 3-15 from four overs, hit a Mitchell McClenaghan delivery to a diving Croft at long-on, only for the wicket to be chalked off because of a no ball.
“It feels like a loss with the position we got in to,” admitted Croft. “We had a great start, but the boundaries dried up in the middle period. They bowled well and brought it back.
“But we are disappointed. We tried not to panic when we needed 24 off the last two overs, but we thought then we could take it to the wire. We should have got the win. We were in a really strong position and should have extended one of the partnerships we had.
“It was an obvious no ball, but people make mistakes. It’s a shame we had the cameras here and the facilities to have another look at it. The square leg umpire may have been confused by the under-edge, but the umpires could have had a chat. As fast as Twenty20 is – and the umpires probably felt rushed for a decision too – sometimes if we all took an extra minute the right decision may have been made.
“It was a shame because Gareth has shown in the last few games he is in good form with striking the ball. If it had been given a no-ball we would have had two runs added to the total and an extra ball as well as Crossy still at the crease.”
Spin trio Stephen Parry, debutant Arron Lilley and Croft took a wicket each and put the skids under the Vikings after they had started well with 55-1 after seven overs following Glen Chapple’s decision to bowl first.
Croft opened the bowling with his off-spin before left-armer Parry and off-spinner Lilley bowled their four overs unbroken from the seventh over and returned 1-21 and 1-22 respectively before Croft struck the crucial blow to remove the dangerous Gary Ballance.
That left Yorkshire at 108-4 in the 15th over. Although Phil Jaques top-scored with 66 not out off 57 balls, the hosts could only post a below par 152-6.
Lilley, aged 22, excelled after being named in the squad in place of Simon Kerrigan, who was attending a family funeral.
Lancashire then got their chase off to a flyer thanks to Tom Smith, who hit four fours and a six in 24 off Jack Brooks in the fourth over to help his side reach 42-0 after four.
But Pyrah was brilliant with 13 dots from 24 balls. He picked up the wickets of Smith caught and Karl Brown and Simon Katich bowled. Croft hit a boundary with the second ball of the last over to put Lancashire in the driving seat, but could not get five off four balls and three off the last against Sidebottom’s yorkers.
Lancashire, having not won in three now, desperately need a win against Leicestershire Foxes at Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday.
Photo: Action man Steven Croft dives to make his ground during a thrilling tied game at Headingley (Clint Hughes/EMPICS Sport)