Crushing victory in Birmingham doesn’t ensure progression

David Willey (right) scored a massive 167 against Warwickshire
David Willey (right) scored a massive 167 against Warwickshire

In the end it wasn’t quite enough.

Needing a victory at Edgbaston and other results to go their way if a Yorkshire Bank 40 semi-final place was to be booked, Northamptonshire fulfilled the first part of the equation by a comprehensive 199 runs but the second bit didn’t go to plan.

Nottinghamshire got the better of Kent in Canterbury to top Group A, with the runners-up spot secured by the Steelbacks not good enough with only one second place side going through to the last four.

With Glamorgan having too much for Yorkshire, Gloucestershire’s clash with Somerset in Bristol became all-important with a home victory sending the County through but hope died as their’ chase fell flat in the final stages.

But back to the day’s events and when you put a side on the field that contains just three specialist bowlers, only one of whom is a first-teamer, you’re asking for trouble.

Add to the mix a flat 22 yards, relatively small boundaries, a quick outfield and an opener who can do no wrong and the everything all adds up to an almighty flogging which is exactly what the home attack were given.

And it was David Willey who was the architect of it all, the end result of which was the highest score ever made by the County in 40-over cricket.

Carrying on where he left off nine days ago, the left-hander pulverised the bowling to the tune of 167 from a meagre 101 deliveries.

Exactly one hundred came in boundaries - 10 fours and as many sixes - and when he lofted Tom Milnes to long-on in the penultimate over, he was a further maximum from overtaking Wayne Larkins’ individual record of 172 against the same opposition at Luton 30 years ago.

Concentrating mainly on the leg-side, Willey flayed all that was served up to him, and there was some real dross, in a fantastic display of clean ball-striking.

He shared in stands of 69 with David Sales, 82 with Ben Duckett and a 101 with Rob Keogh, who made an excellent 61 in the final overs, as the inexperienced attack were caught way out of their depth with the visitors scoring at a rate of almost 10-an-over from the halfway point.

Only the admirably consistent Jeetan Patel, whose eight overs of off-spin cost a relatively paltry 32, escaped the punishment and his effort constituted a minor triumph among the carnage.

It takes something out of the ordinary to reach such a substantial target and the hosts were never really in the hunt.

Needing one of their main men to match Willey’s performance, in terms of output if not necessarily style, the Warwickshire top order came and went without making any significant impact as it all became fairly routine.

Will Porterfield threatened briefly with a handful of boundaries against the new ball but that was about it as the chase failed to click into top gear.

There was a nice touch when Darren Maddy, making his final List A appearance after a 21-year career, was given a guard of honour by the County as he came into bat, but he was unable to finish with a bang as he was expertly stumped down the leg-side by David Murphy off Trent Copeland.

The rest was just playing out time as Lee Daggett and Muhammad Azharullah picked up some cheap wickets apiece to close out what has been, semi-final place or not, a very good 40-over campaign.