England captain Joe Root brought a commendable act of sportsmanship to one of English sport’s oldest rivalries on Saturday – although plenty of Yorkshire fans might feel he let Lancashire all-rounder Steven Croft off lightly.
Chasing a meagre 128-7 to win in the T20 Blast Roses match at Old Trafford – Root having top scored with 32 for the visitors – Lancashire slumped to 64-5 in the eighth over.
Croft (26 not out) and Luke Wells (30) embarked upon a rebuilding job that left Dane Villas’ side needing 18 from 15 deliveries, at which point Croft collapsed to the ground mid-pitch when trying to run quick single.
The batsman howled in pain and, under instruction from stand-in captain Root, Yorkshire opted not to run him out. After treatment for cramp, Croft was still in the middle when Danny Lamb hit the winning runs and Lancashire secured a quarter-final berth by four wickets.
“As a side we made a very difficult decision under pressure,” Root said, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
“It looked very serious at first glance. In many ways it was a relief it was nothing serious. I am sure there will be many different opinions. Many people would have handled it differently.”
Afterwards, Croft paid tribute to the England skipper and his team-mates, suggesting he’d have been able to have few complaints had he been run out.
“Two games in two days at 36 and a bit of sun has done me,” he told Sky Sports. “I put the brakes on, they worked, and my legs just cramped up.
“I didn’t know where the ball had gone. They could have taken the bails off and credit to them that they didn’t.”