Another Josh Cobb half-century proved to be an innings in vain for the Steelbacks against Yorkshire Vikings, who took a massive step towards the Vitality Blast quarter finals with a win at the County Ground.
Cobb was the Steelbacks’ top scorer with 68 off 39 balls and saw out 16 of his team’s 20 overs at the crease. Unfortunately, aside from a 44-run partnership with Alex Wakely and a further 42 runs shared with Luke Procter, partnerships with Cobb were few and far between.
Openers Charlie Thurston and Ben Duckett got off to a healthy start with 30 runs off the first four overs. But both went in the fifth, Thurston being caught by Kane Williamson and Duckett edging to backward point to Adam Lyth.
Those two wickets came off Matt Fisher, but he was to be outdone by England white ball star David Willey in the 19th. Willey shrugged off being smashed by Cobb for two massive sixes in successive balls to end his spell with a triple-wicket maiden, having Procter, Graeme White and Brett Hutton all caught.
Cobb and Ben Sanderson did score 14 off the final over to take the Steelbacks to a relatively competitive 162-8, and when Hutton had Vikings opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore caught in the first over there was plenty of hope around the County Ground.
However, once Lyth and Willey got into their stride any thoughts of a victory were extinguished. The England pair put on 150 in just 80 balls, and while neither were at the crease to score the winning runs their partnership was at the heart of their team’s success.
Lyth hit 66 in 41 balls and Willey showed his class in this format with a 79 off 44 balls, and they took the visitors to within 10 runs of their target.
With two more internationals, England’s Gary Ballance and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, at the crease, the final 10 runs were a formality and the Vikings headed back up the M1 with the victory that keeps them well in the hunt for a knockout place.