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 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."
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.
Yorkshire slumped to 55-3 when Leaning and Andrew Gale teamed up in a 68-run stand but were limited to just one boundary in 11 overs, while Gale took 53 balls to register his first four before driving to point five short of his half-century.
Leaning and Hodd's later efforts transformed Yorkshire's prospects, until Westley and ten Doschate teamed up and stole Leaning's limelight.