Yorkshire made a wonderful start to the Clydesdale Bank 40-overs competition by handing Essex a crushing ten-wicket defeat at Chelmsford today.

Captain Andrew Gale and Jacques Rudolph both hit unbeaten centuries to make light of the target set by the hosts, who had completed their allotted overs on 232 for nine.

The pair put together a record stand of 233 to see their side over the finishing line with 25 balls to spare.

Their efforts represented the county’s highest partnership for any wicket in limited-overs league cricket and condemned Essex to their heaviest defeat in this format of the game.

Gale’s 125 from 115 balls was his first limited-overs century and included a dozen fours and three sixes, while Rudolph faced 102 balls which included 13 boundaries to finish on 101 not out.

Only one chance was offered when Gale drove hard at Chris Wright when on 30 and Tim Phillips failed to hold on to a difficult chance low down.

But after that, the Yorkshire pair went about their business untroubled to ensure that the earlier efforts of Tino Best were not wasted.

The West Indian paceman finished with four for 46 from his eight overs but he could not remove 39-year-old Grant Flower, whose 113 not out from as many balls underpinned the Essex innings.

Best made an impact in an eventful opening over after Essex were put in. After sending down a no ball that gifted Alastair Cook a free hit, from which he helped himself to a boundary, he bowled the England opener with a full toss with the final delivery.

Essex lost their second wicket on 19 but were revived by Mark Pettini and Flower. At first they adopted a cautious approach as Best and Steve Patterson kept things tight, supported by keen fielding.

Pettini hit 51 before he cut David Wainwright to Gale at backward point, leaving Flower to carry the Essex cause.

He hit the only six of the innings – off Wainwright - and gathered another seven boundaries in completing his first limited-overs ton.

Before then, the impressive Best had Ryan ten Doeschate caught behind and removed Tom Westley and Tim Phillips with successive deliveries to complete a four-wicket haul.

Then the opening batsmen took over with complete authority.