A Sheffield cricketer put his home county to the sword as Yorkshire slumped to another heavy defeat in the NatWest T20 Blast.
Clean and calculated hitting of the highest order from the Steel City’s Worcestershire ace Ross Whiteley at Headingley, condemned Yorkshire to a 74 run defeat
Whiteley’s onslaught powered him to an unbeaten 91 off 35 balls with two fours and 11 sixes and charged his side to 191 for six.
Yorkshire were then bowled out for 117 with three overs remaining.
Victory for Worcestershire assured them of a place in the quarter-final draw but Yorkshire’s seventh defeat in 12 outings almost certainly pointed them in the direction of the exit door.
Whiteley said: “I think I am playing as well as at an time in my career and I am hitting the ball as well as I have ever done.
“I am really enjoying my T20 cricket at the moment after the last two years have been very tough for me. I like to come in an the back end of the innings and I see that as my strength.”
There was little sign of the carnage to come as the Rapids made fairly hard work of moving to 63 for four by the tenth over upon winning the toss but captain Daryl Mitchell was still battling away and it was his 61 stand in six overs with Whiteley that dramatically changed the visitors’ fortunes.
Whiteley was quickly into his six-hitting mode, beginning by smacking left-arm spinner, Karl Carver, over mid-wicket and into the West Stand and then taking two sixes in an over off Will Rhodes before straight driving Glenn Maxwell over the rope.
An uncharacteristic swing by Mitchell at Liam Plunkett denied him a well-deserved half-century, his 49 coming off 45 balls with five boundaries but Whiteley then embarked on some of the cleanest and most rapid hitting seen at Headingley in quite a while.
Consecutive sixes at the expense of Ryan Gibson, who was making his T20 debut along with Carver, rushed him to his 50 from 14 deliveries with one four and six sixes.
After Plunkett had picked up his third wicket by getting Ben Cox caught by Jonny Bairstow off a skier, the England fast bowler was rudely treated by Whiteley who drove him for three mighty sixes and a four in an over which conceded 23 runs.
Whiteley was going almost exclusively by the aerial route, his second four only coming after he had plundered nine sixes, and two more sweetly-timed maximums flew off the middle of his bat before the innings closed, the left-hander’s 91 containing five sixes in the last two overs with 76 runs gushing from the final five overs.
It was heady stuff from Whiteley who cruised past his previous best T20 score of 84 not out.
Yorkshire began their reply as if they meant business as Alex Lees belted two sixes off Jack Shantry’s first four balls and he and captain Andrew Gale dashed up 27 in three overs before the rot set in.
Lees was first to go, caught by Shantry off the wily Saeed Ajmal, and from that point on they were never in the hunt. The game was as good as over when they slumped from 60 for two to 60 for five in the space of five balls, including the vital wicket of Australian Glenn Maxwell who drove his first ball from Brett D’Oliveira straight to Tom Cohler-Cadmore at long-off.
D’Oliveira ended up with three for 29 off his four overs while Shantry and Ajmal each captured two wickets.