YORK'S Jack Leaning ended his impatient wait for a first Yorkshire century but it was not enough to prevent Essex Eagles claiming an important victory as both sides attempt to secure places in the Royal London One-day Cup quarter-finals.
Essex’s victory with 25 balls to spare, chasing down Yorkshire’s impressive total of 290-5, moved them level on points with their opponents at the top of Group 'A' and although neither are mathematically through to the last eight, one more victory should secure it.
Yorkshire will regard it as a missed opportunity, however, with Leaning scoring an unbeaten 111 off 99 balls, sharing in a 109-run stand spanning 13 overs with Andrew Hodd and adding an impressive 114 in the final ten overs to leave Essex facing a huge task.
Despite slipping to 68-4 in reply, Essex completed their victory with some ease after Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom Westley both recorded centuries and forged a match-winning 209-run fifth wicket stand in 31 overs.
It took the gloss off Leaning’s century, particularly after he missed out on a maiden championship hundred by falling for 99 against Sussex at Arundel, but it was still a memorable day for the 20-year-old batsman.
He reached three figures with a six off Graham Napier, who conceded 23 in the final over, and admitted: “I thought I’d picked the fielder out on the boundary so it was a bit of a relief to see it creep over – I think it got a nice gust of wind at the right time.
“I’m pleased to get my first hundred and it’s a great experience for me. It’s something I’ll never forget. Unfortunately we couldn’t win which is the main thing but it’s nice to be off the mark.”
Leaning’s performance, which included four fours and fours sixes, was all the more remarkable for the outstanding efforts of the Scarborough groundstaff who cleared a ground covered in surface water less than 24 hours earlier to ensure a prompt start.
In sunny and blustery conditions, Essex chose to field and made early inroads when Leaning joined his captain, Andrew Gale, at the crease with Yorkshire in some trouble at 55-3.
Attempting to rebuild, they shared a 68-run stand but were restricted in their scoring options by an Essex attack bowling full and straight, limiting them to just one boundary in 11 overs while Gale took 53 balls to register his first four.
Gale fell five runs short of his half-century, driving ten Doeschate to point, but Yorkshire picked up impetus when Hodd joined Leaning on
154-5 and transformed the target from modest to formidable.
It looked a winning total, particularly when Essex slipped to 68-4 with Jack Brooks and Tim Bresnan both making breakthroughs with the new ball and Yorkshire seemed set for their fourth victory in a row.
Instead, Westley and ten Doeschate slowly rebuilt the innings and both reached centuries, that leaves both sides almost, but not quite, in the quarter-finals.
Royal London One-day Cup Group 'A'
Yorkshire v Essex
(Essex won toss)
A Lyth run out 38
A Z Lees b Masters 8
K S Williamson c Foster b Masters 2
A W Gale c Phillips b ten Doeschate 45
J A Leaning not out 111
A U Rashid c Pettini b Masters 14
A J Hodd b Masters 42
T T Bresnan not out 9
Extras (lb4 w17) 21
Total 6 wkts (50 overs) 290
Fall: 1-26 2-38 3-55 4-123 5-154 6-263.
Bowling: Napier 10-0-84-0, Masters 10-2-34-4, Topley 10-0-54-0, Westley 5-0-14-0, Phillips 7-0-42-0, ten Doeschate 8-0-58-1.
M L Pettini c Hodd b Brooks 0
T Westley not out 111
G M Smith c Williamson b Bresnan 0
K S Velani lbw b Bresnan 1
J D Ryder c Lyth b Pyrah 36
R N ten Doeschate c Lyth b Patterson 119
J S Foster not out 7
Extras (b1 lb3 w5 nb8) 17
Total 5 wkts (45.5 overs) 291
Fall: 1-0 2-11 3-15 4-68 5-277.
Bowling: Brooks 9-0-43-1, Bresnan 10-1-53-2, Patterson 8-0-44-1, Pyrah 7-0-51-1, Leaning 3-0-25-0, A U Rashid 8.5-0-71-0.
Essex beat Yorkshire by 5 wkts