A STUNNING century by Jonny Bairstow left Durham shellshocked and propelled Yorkshire to a 49-run win in last night’s NatWest T20 Blast match at Chester-le-Street.
Bairstow treated a crowd of 6,747 to a wonderful exhibition of clean striking, lashing six sixes in reaching the first Twenty20 hundred at the Emirates Durham ICG off 57 balls.
The only previous T20 centuries for Yorkshire were by overseas men, Ian Harvey and Herschelle Gibbs, while only Lancashire’s Mal Loye had passed three figures against Durham, at Old Trafford in 2005.
Durham seemed in command as they restricted Yorkshire to 84 for five after 12 overs, but Bairstow’s onslaught resulted in 102 being added off the last eight.
His second 50 came off only 18 balls and included three successive sixes driven over long-on when Durham gambled by bowling Gareth Breese in the 19th over.
They also paid heavily for continuing to gamble on Usman Arshad, whose highly promising start to his first team career has floundered since he had to be removed from the attack against Leicestershire for bowling two full tosses above waist height.
He had bowled with impressive economy in the first five matches of the series, but last night he had the misfortune to equal Nicky Phillips’ 2003 record for Durham’s most expensive T20 analysis, conceding 51 in four overs.
Yorkshire fans could have been forgiven for thinking their team should have stuck to the old tradition of fielding only those born within the county as their two overseas men scored five between them.
They left out skipper Andrew Gale, whose wife was about to give birth, and handed the reins to Aaron Finch, whose 156 in a T20 international against England last summer seems a distant memory.
The Australian continued his disappointing run with a second ball duck as both he and fellow opener Kane Williamson tried to hit John Hastings to leg and skied leading edges into the off side.
After being put in it was a dreadful start for Yorkshire, despite Hastings over-stepping twice in the first over, starting with the second ball.
Williamson took a single off it, leaving Finch to face the free hit. He made room to hit over the off side and failed to connect, then lobbed a catch off the next ball to backward point.
Paul Collingwood ran in and held a tumbling catch, prompting Hastings to set off on a celebratory jig reminiscent of Ottis Gibson after taking all ten.
Williamson was held by Mark Stoneman at extra cover in Hastings’ next over, leaving true Tykes Bairstow and Alex Lees to repair the damage.
Left-hander Lees cover drove the last two balls of that over for four and the brakes were off when Durham turned to Arshad.
His his third ball went for four leg-side wides and 11 came off the over, but Chris Rushworth conceded only a single in the fifth.
Lees continued to bat impressively until he was foxed by the lack of pace in a Collingwood delivery and lofted a catch to Gordon Muchall, running in from long-on.
Bairstow then began to take command as he drove Breese for four and six then pulled Collingwood into the crowd over square leg.
Hastings came back for his final over and by banging the ball in short he conceded only two runs and had Tim Bresnan caught at long leg.
Bairstow went to his 50 off 39 balls by turning a full toss to fine leg for his fourth four off Arshad, who was left on for his final over, which proved a disaster.
Adil Rashid pulled a no-ball for six then drove the free hit over the rope at long-on. With the help of an inside edge for four the over cost 22.
After Bairstow drove the first three balls for six in the 19th over he then took a single and Rich Pyrah was caught on the backward square leg boundary.
Off the final ball Bairstow’s fierce straight drive was deflected on to the stumps with Ollie Robinson stranded.
That also meant Bairstow, on 90, was not on strike for the final over, but after hitting a four Azeem Rafiq took a single.
Bairstow tried to flip Rushworth’s third ball to fine leg and edged it very fine for four then picked up two to long-on before pulling the fifth ball for six to complete his century.
He remained 102 not out and the total of 186 for eight seemed to induce immediate panic in Durham as four of their top six mustered one run between them.
Stoneman and Calum MacLeod made three-ball ducks, Muchall hit a firm, low drive to extra cover, and on the day when he picked up his Sport and Exercise Science degree from Sunderland University Ryan Pringle went first ball.
He edged Pyrah to Bairstow and the same combination saw off Phil Mustard for 35 two overs later when the desperate situation was the left-hander sky an attempted big hit.
There could be no recovery from 63 for six, but Hastings spared Durham’s blushes as he followed up his three for 20 by hammering a 25-ball half-century.
He was bowled for 62 by Ryan Sidebottom in the 19th over and Durham were all out for 137 with two balls unused.