Cobb heroics not enough as Willey helps Vikings to crush Steelbacks

Josh Cobb was in fantastic form once again for the Steelbacks (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Josh Cobb was in fantastic form once again for the Steelbacks (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

David Willey was the scourge of the Steelbacks once again as he starred with bat and ball in an easy seven-wicket win for Yorkshire Vikings at the County Ground on Thursday night.

Willey claimed three wickets in an incredible maiden over, which was the penultimate one of the Steelbacks innings in the Vitality Blast contest.

And the England star, who took a hat-trick in the 2013 final to help Northants beat Surrey at Edgbaston, then shone with the bat, smashing a sensational 79 from 44 balls.

Yorkshire made light work of the chase, hunting down the Steelbacks' 162 for eight, in which Josh Cobb provided a fantastic unbeaten 62 from 39 balls, with a whopping 27 balls to spare.

It was a seventh defeat in as many T20 home matches this season and Northants have still only won one game in all as they prepare to conclude their campaign at Leicestershire Foxes on Friday night.

The Steelbacks had started the game against Yorkshire seeking to put on a show for the home fans, who have been made to suffer this season.

And after a huge let-off for Charlie Thurston during Willey's first over - two Yorkshire fielders collided and failed to take the catch - Ben Duckett provided some entertainment.

Duckett took a liking to former Northants bowler Jack Brooks in the fourth over, hitting him for three fours in four balls to get the Steelbacks up and running.

However, Matt Fisher struck with his first ball as Thurston skied one and Kane Williamson took the catch to dismiss the opener for 16.

And Fisher forced another dismissal from the final delivery of his first over as Duckett was caught by Adam Lyth for 16.

The Steelbacks finished the powerplay on 35 for two and after Cobb hit a four from the penultimate ball of Fisher's second over, the batsman escaped after skying one that eventually landed safely.

Cobb then made the most of his reprieve, smashing Tim Bresnan around the ground, taking two sixes and a four as the Steelbacks claimed 18 runs off the ninth over.

But Yorkshire then fought back and Alex Wakely went for 14 as he chipped one to Bresnan at mid-off off the bowling of Liam Plunkett.

From the next ball, Cobb escaped again as Plunkett failed to take the catch off his own bowling.

But Plunkett did get his second wicket when Steven Crook, who had shown plenty of ambition and ability, departed for a quickfire 18, with Fisher taking a fine catch on the boundary.

The Steelbacks were stuttering and Seekkuge Prasanna couldn't make any sort of impact as he was bowled for just four by Brooks.

At 108 for five with five overs to go, it was all down to Cobb as Northants looked to register a competitive score.

And Cobb looked in the mood to make another big personal total as he passed the half-century mark from 32 balls with successive sixes off the bowling of Willey.

Luke Procter also added some useful late runs with Bresnan continuing to take some punishment, finishing without a wicket from his three overs, having conceded 43 runs.

But Willey returned to bowl the penultimate over and he got rid of Procter for 14 before Graeme White and Brett Hutton went without scoring.

It was a fine triple-wicket maiden for the former Northants man, but the Steelbacks avoided losing another wicket in the final over, with Cobb smashing a six off Fisher to finish unbeaten on 68.

And the Steelbacks struck early in the Yorkshire reply as Hutton had Tom Kohler-Cadmore caught by White without scoring.

But Willey was the next man in and he soon set about scoring quickly, with Lyth also enjoying the powerplay period as boundaries flowed.

They took 52 runs between the end of the second over and the start of the sixth, and the Steelbacks were now really struggling to find a breakthrough.

The ton came up for the Vikings in the 10th over and the away side were sailing serenely to victory.

Hutton missed a caught and bowled opportunity as Willey got a top edge on one and the batsman then hit the next ball for six to reach a 34-ball half-century.

He continued to take the bowlers to task, lashing five sixes in the space of the 12 balls he faced at one point.

The only sound at the County Ground was appreciative applause for the Vikings batsmen as the Steelbacks failed to give their fans any reason to cheer.

That was until Gleeson got the wicket of Lyth for 66, just after he and Willey had brought up their 150 partnership.

Another wicket followed soon after as Willey was caught by Wakely off Ben Sanderson, and Northampton-born Willey was given a standing ovation by some as he exited the stage.

And it wasn't long before his side got over the line with Gary Ballance hitting the winning runs from a free hit to complete a comprehensive Vikings success.

Steelbacks: Duckett (wk), Cobb, Wakely (c), Thurston, Crook, Prasanna, Procter, White, Hutton, Gleeson, Sanderson.

Yorkshire Vikings: Lyth, Kohler-Cadmore, Willey (c), Ballance, Williamson, Tattersall (wk), Bresnan, Thompson, Fisher, Plunkett, Brooks.

Seekkuge Prasanna was bowled by Jack Brooks

Seekkuge Prasanna was bowled by Jack Brooks

David Willey (right) claimed three wickets in his final over

David Willey (right) claimed three wickets in his final over

Jack Brooks was in action against his former club

Jack Brooks was in action against his former club