By Rob Barnett
On an evening of high scores Jonny Bairstow stole the show with his first Twenty20 ton.
Although Yorkshire Vikings’ 186 for eight in victory over Durham Jets was only the day’s fifth-best total, Bairstow’s unbeaten 102 was the outstanding individual batting effort.
Given the England wicketkeeper-batsman’s prodigious talent, it is surprising that it took him until his 58th T20 knock to reach three figures.
That he did so yesterday was thanks to some excellently-calculated late-innings hitting at the Emirates Durham ICG.
Having come to the crease at 12 for two in the third over after overseas stars Aaron Finch and Kane Williamson had failed, Bairstow put the Vikings on course for a competitive score with some sensible strokeplay.
However, with two overs of the innings left, he was some way off a century on 71 from 49 balls.
The powerful right-hander made the hundred a reality by driving the next three deliveries, from off-spinner Gareth Breese, over the long-on rope.
With four balls to go Bairstow had 90. He then nudged Chris Rushworth for four just past the wicketkeeper, took two to long-on and pulled the innings’ penultimate delivery for six.
A bye saw him finish on 102 from 58 balls, including six sixes and eight fours, 73 runs more than the next-best contributor.
Gloveman Bairstow even claimed two catches, both off Richard Pyrah who returned 3-19, as Durham were dismissed for 137.
The win keeps Yorkshire in the North Group’s fourth quarter-final spot and just a point behind third-placed Worcestershire Rapids with a game in hand.
Yesterday’s two highest team totals were 192 from Glamorgan and Northants Steelbacks, who overcame the next two best scores in exciting last-over wins.
Glamorgan, batting first versus Surrey at the Kia Oval, lost just four wickets as Jacques Rudolph underpinned the innings with 75 not out.
Although red-hot Jason Roy made 60 at the top of the reply, the hosts came up short on 188 for four as the teams swapped third and fourth positions in the South Group.
Defending champions Northants had their work cut out to beat North Group strugglers Derbyshire at Wantage Road after fourties from Gareth Cross and the unbeaten Tom Knight lifted the Falcons to 191 for six.
However, an opening stand of 96 between Richard Levi and David Willey set the Steelbacks on their way to a four-wicket win achieved with four balls in hand.
Victory keeps Northants in contention for a last-four berth, although there are just three places left in the North Group following Lancashire Lightning’s progression.
Their 151 for seven was 18 too many for Leicestershire Foxes at Grace Road. Andrew Flintoff, having made just one with the bat, took his third, fourth and fifth Blast wickets in the second match of his remarkable comeback from retirement.
The former England all-rounder is yet to fire with the blade, but Blast is hardly short of big hitters with Bairstow becoming its fourth centurion.