AARON FINCH started his county cricket career by helping Yorkshire Vikings claim their first win of the NatWest T20 Blast competition with a convincing eight-wicket victory over Derbyshire Falcons at Headingley.
The world’s number one T20 international batsman, who has replaced Kane Williamson while he is absent on New Zealand’s tour of West Indies as Yorkshire’s overseas player, hit just 19 runs off 17 balls but helped his new employers race to victory with six overs remaining.
It was a gentle introduction to England’s version of domestic T20 cricket for Finch, who has only just returned from playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, after Yorkshire’s attack restricted Derbyshire to a modest 127-6.
Such was the low target that Finch did not need to display his explosive batting skills, which first came to prominence last summer when he hit 14 sixes for Australia during an innings of 156 against England at the Rosebowl.
He gave a brief demonstration of his ability by hitting his third ball for a straight six down the ground off Wes Durston, but was out-scored by a brilliant innings of 61 off 44 balls by Alex Lees that included four fours in a row off Mark Turner.
Such was Lees’ domination of Derbyshire’s attack, that was weakened by the loss of Tony Palladino and Tim Groenewald from their line-up after they were delayed by traffic on the M1 and arrived too late to be named in the team, that Finch did not face his tenth ball until the seventh over.
He was eventually out in the ninth over when he hit an attempted drive down the ground off Marcus North high in the air, to allow his fellow Australian a return catch, after hitting a four and a six in his brief innings.
But Lees carried on after Finch’s dismissal to hit nine fours, while York's Jonny Bairstow hit a quickfire 29 off 16 balls, as Yorkshire raced to their emphatic victory.
Derbyshire’s innings was undermined virtually from the start and they never really recovered from Stephen Moore being run out from cover by Oliver Robinson in the fourth over.
After racing to 28 without loss in three overs, they stuttered after Moore’s dismissal and hit only 11 fours in the whole of their innings, with Yorkshire even being able to afford a sloppy performance in the field.
York's Jack Leaning was the biggest culprit, dropping four catches – one off his own bowling and three in the deep – while Liam Plunkett also missed a catch yet Derbyshire’s top scorer was captain Wayne Madsen’s unbeaten 34 off 34 balls.
Leaning has been included in Yorkshire’s squad for their championship match at Northampton, which starts at noon, as they attempt to bounce back from their disappointing draw against Lancashire earlier this week.
He joins 18-year-old seamer Josh Shaw, an England under-19 international, in the 12-man squad. Ryan Sidebottom will travel down with Yorkshire for treatment on the left hamstring strain he sustained during the Roses match, but is expected to be replaced by Steve Patterson in the starting line-up.
Yorkshire squad (v Northamptonshire): A Gale (capt), A Lees, A Lyth, A Finch, J Bairstow (wkt), J Leaning, A Rashid, L Plunkett, R Pyrah, J Brooks, S Patterson, J Shaw.
* Yorkshire have been granted planning permission to erect permanent floodlights at Headingley by Leeds City Council. It is hoped they will be installed for the start of next season.
* Stamford Bridge all-rounder Will Rhodes will line-up for Yorkshire Second XI on his home Low Catton Road ground against Warwickshire next week.
The White Rose second string host their Bears counterparts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 11am each day.
NatWest T20 Blast
Yorkshire v Derbyshire
(Derbyshire won toss)
C F Hughes c Robinson b Plunkett 11
S C Moore run out 18
W J Durston lbw b A U Rashid 7
M J North b A U Rashid 5
W L Madsen not out 34
S L Elstone c Lees b Plunkett 14
G D Cross b Pyrah 20
A L Hughes not out 9
Extras (b1 lb3 w5) 9
Total 6 wkts (20 overs) 127
Fall: 1-33 2-41 3-48 4-49 5-82 6-109.
Bowling: Leaning 1-0-12-0, Brooks 3-0-21-0, Plunkett 4-0-25-2, Pyrah 4-0-24-1, Robinson 4-0-22-0, A U Rashid 4-0-19-2.
A J Finch c & b North 19
A W Gale c Elstone b Footitt 7
A Z Lees not out 61
J M Bairstow not out 29
Extras (lb6 w6) 12
Total 2 wkts (14 overs) 128
Fall: 1-22 2-86.
Bowling: Durston 2-0-14-0, Footitt 2-0-16-1, Turner 2-0-29-0, Knight 2-0-17-0, A L Hughes 1-0-8-0, North 2-0-17-1, Elstone 1-0-9-0, C F Hughes 2-0-12-0.
Yorkshire beat Derbyshire by 8 wkts