Luke Procter delivered victory for Northamptonshire against his old county, Lancashire, by two wickets and with just a ball to spare at Wantage Road in the Royal London One Day Cup.
It was an incredible game of cricket with both innings swinging back and forth. Northants, set 280, were 194 for 2 in the 34th over but lost 3 for 5 in four overs. The equation was finally reduced to two needed from two deliveries and Procter flicked Matt Parkinson’s leg-spin wide of midwicket for a boundary to win the game.
But until Procter, who finished 43 not out from 38 balls, and Adam Rossington, 34 from 44, came together, Lancashire looked likely to steal the match from the jaws of defeat. Having needed 86 to win from 17 overs with eight wickets in hand, the game was turned on it’s head by a calamitous run out.
Alex Wakely set off for a single to extra-cover, was sent back by Richard Levi, and fell for 23. Four balls later Levi was caught behind for 90 and Steven Crook then chipped a catch to midwicket to fall for 1. Having been in complete control of the chase, Northants suddenly needed 54 from 42 balls with five wickets in hand.
But Procter and Rossington settled. Rossington backed away at Tom Bailey to carve four wide of third man, flicked Jordan Clark over midwicket for another boundary and pulled Bailey viscously to bring the equation down to 36 needed from 30 balls.
Procter then struck three boundaries in successive balls in the 47th over, which yielded 16 runs, and the contest appeared settled. But Rossington ran down the wicket at Parkinson and holed out to mid-on, Graeme White was bowled second ball and Brett Hutton run out for 1.
10 were then needed from seven balls, only for Nathan Buck to lift his first ball for six over midwicket. Four from the final over appeared straightforward, only for Procter’s penultimate-ball flick to save the day for Northants.
It was incredible the situation got close to that after Levi and Josh Cobb raced to 90 for 0 in 11 overs. Levi exploded into life by taking 22 from the seventh over of the innings. He lined up Bailey to nonchalantly lift him over long-on for six, struck the next ball over the bowler’s head for four, slapped the next over extra-cover before a missed pull preceded two more fours – past short-third man and through cover – en route to passing fifty in 51 balls.
His innings appeared to make Lancashire’s 279 for 9 look light. The visitors also enjoyed a bright start, with Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies sharing 105 for the opening wicket. But after they slipped to 185 for 5 in the 37th over, it needed a perfectly-paced unbeaten 83 from 68 balls from Dane Vilas to ensure a competitive total.
Initially, Vilas played a simple innings, working the bowling around smartly and running very aggressively. He passed fifty in 49 balls with just two fours, one of those a swat through midwicket having charged at Buck.
But with licence to play in the closing overs, he pointed both feet down the wicket at Ben Sanderson to deflect a boundary past short-third man, heaved Hutton out of the ground over midwicket and struck a second six wide of long-on as 46 runs came from the final five overs of the innings. It was almost a decisive push.
Northamptonshire’s Luke Procter said:
“It feels amazing. It was tough after Alex got run out. But myself and Adam managed to build a partnership and as we got going and to hit those final runs is incredible.
“I thought it was a good score they made and the guys got us off to a great start, it wasn’t easy and they took it to the bowlers.
But it got tougher and we had it in our grasp and then to bring us home at the end was special.”