Gay and Vasconcelos tons not enough as Lancashire end Steelbacks' One Day Cup hopes

Emilio Gay (left) and Ricardo Vasconcelos both hit centuries for the Steelbacks in their One Day Cup defeat at LancashireEmilio Gay (left) and Ricardo Vasconcelos both hit centuries for the Steelbacks in their One Day Cup defeat at Lancashire
Emilio Gay (left) and Ricardo Vasconcelos both hit centuries for the Steelbacks in their One Day Cup defeat at Lancashire
Northants Steelbacks are out of the running for a knockout place in the Royal London One Day Cup after Lancashire’s batsmen mounted the highest successful run-chase in their List A history at a sun-soaked, run-stuffed day at Blackpool.

A win would have kept the County’s hopes of a top three Group B finish alive, but despite making a monstrous 370 for four in their 50 overs – Northants’ second-highest List A total – Lancashire got home comfortably with 10 balls and four wickets to spare, thanks to a century from their skipper, Keaton Jennings, and a nerveless 61 not out off 34 balls by George Lavelle.

However, defeat was hard on Steelbacks openers, Ricardo Vasconcelos and Emilio Gay, both of whom made centuries in what was a magnificent game of List A cricket.

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Gay hit 131 from 117 balls, hammering 14 fours and one six, while Vasconcelos rubber-stamped his return to his best form with 104 from 90 balls, hitting nine fours and three sixes.

Unsurprisingly the Steelbacks’ innings was dominated by the pair, whose 198-run stand set a first-wicket record for Northamptonshire against Lancashire in List A cricket.

Vasconcelos was quick to punish anything short of a length and reached three figures off 89 balls with nine fours and three sixes. By contrast, Gay’s driving was a particular delight and he got to his maiden List A century off 94 balls.

Despite their best efforts, Lancashire’s bowlers were unthreatening and it was fitting that the first wicket was a run out when Gay sent Vasconcelos back and the South African opener was beaten by Steven Croft’s throw from square leg.

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Will Young and Saif Zaib made useful 20s before both batsmen were caught at deep square leg by Rob Jones, George Balderson and Danny Lamb being the successful bowlers.

Four balls after Zaib’s departure, Gay was also run out by Luke Wells’s direct hit from cover, leaving the Steelbacks on 304 for four after 41.3 overs.

Those wickets deprived the Steelbacks innings of a little of its impetus but Lewis McManus hit four sixes in his 44 not out to ensure that Northants reached their highest List A total against Lancashire, who conceded their third-highest total in this format.

Lamb, who took one for 64 from his 10 overs was the pick of the home attack. most members of which were roughly treated on a superb batting pitch.

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But the Steelbacks bowlers, with Ben Sanderson and Tom Taylor both rested, found things no easier against the in-form openers, Keaton Jennings and Luke Wells, who put on 130 in 16 overs before Wells was caught at long off for 84 by the substitute fielder Harry Gouldstone off Saif Zaib.

Wells had been particularly severe on Freddie Heldreich, hitting the left-arm wrist spinner for three sixes in one over, but Zaib maintained a degree of control and took the second wicket when he caught and bowled Josh Bohannon for 26, thus ending the Boltonian’s 72-run second-wicket stand with Jennings.

Lancashire’s efforts to accelerate were further hampered by the loss of Steven Croft, caught and bowled by Alex Russell for 13, and Rob Jones, caught behind by McManus off Sales for eight, but the crucial blow seemed to have been struck when Jennings, having reached an 86-ball hundred was briliantly caught on the deep midwicket boundary by Gay off Sales for 125.

But Lavelle was joined by George Balderson and the pair’s 82-run stand for the sixth wicket was vital in securing one of Lancashire’s most memorable victories.

Sales and Zaib both claimed two wickets apiece.

The win also confirmed the home side’s place in the knockout stages of the Royal London Cup.