SO another summer slips by with Yorkshire flattering to deceive in knockout cricket, the high expectations of the first half of the season suddenly evaporating into thin air.

Hopes that Yorkshire could make amends for last year's bitterly disappointing Lord's final against Gloucestershire were first knocked on the head by Surrey in the Benson and Hedges Cup quarter final.

And they were well and truly killed off by the dreadful defeat by Northamptonshire at Wantage Road on Wednesday in the fourth round of the NatWest Trophy.

Any visions the fans may have had of a millennium trip to cricket's headquarters to celebrate the new Millennium turned out to be merely figments of the imagination.

Once again Yorkshire have allowed self-doubt to wreck their ambitions and it is this flaw in their mental build-up which seems to destroy them every time they have pressure put upon them.

How else can you explain the complete disintegration of their game against Northamptonshire who have nowhere near as much talent in their ranks as do Yorkshire?

They went into the match as leaders of division one in the Championship whereas their opponents were propping up division two.

The gulf could not have been greater, yet it was Northamptonshire who played purposefully and confidently from the very first ball while Yorkshire seemed as if they just could not rise to the challenge when it mattered.

Apart from Gavin Hamilton, their bowling was either indifferent or poor and only Anthony McGrath seemed at all convincing with the bat. Their fielding was also untidy and on occasions it looked distinctly frayed at the edges.

There are only two real excuses that Yorkshire can offer for their collapse in one-day cricket.

First, the whole county programme has been so fragmented this season and the weather so poor that it has been almost impossible for players to get any continuity, and second it is not easy to get a settled bowling line-up when players are constantly coming and going from England.

Darren Gough and Craig White missed the floodlit Roses match - which Yorkshire won easily - but returned for this week's NatWest game, meaning that Matthew Hoggard and Ryan Sidebottom had to be left out.

Now Gough and White are off with England again and one is bound to wonder if being available for the Northants match turned out to be in Yorkshire's best interests.

None of which alters the fact, however, that when the pressure is on Yorkshire they all too often cannot cope with it. Believing in themselves is something which they have still not succeeded in doing - even though they have a squad of players which other counties can only envy.