FP TROPHY SEMI-FINAL, CHELMSFORD: Essex 285-8 beat Yorkshire 198 by 87 runs
Napier is enhancing his England hopes in the shorter forms of the game
Essex dominated Yorkshire with both bat and ball at Chelmsford to claim a 87-run victory that books their place in the Friends Provident Trophy final.
England opener Alastair Cook hit a fine 95 and Graham Napier struck 61 off 34 balls as the hosts finished on 285-8.
Andrew Gale (64) and Anthony McGrath (53) offered Yorkshire early hope before they collapsed to 198 all out.
Danish Kaneria and Ryan ten Doeschate took three wickets apiece and Essex will face Kent at Lord's on 16 August.
Kaneria took 3-32 off 8.5 overs and Ten Doeschate 3-30 off seven to almost single-handedly destroy Yorkshire's hopes of a victory already made unlikely by the contributions of Cook and man of the match Napier.
The quartet, along with the impressive James Foster behind the stumps, played instrumental roles in a thoroughly deserved victory that sends Essex to the final of county cricket's 50-over competition for the first time since 1997.
"Yorkshire played some very good cricket but we always backed ourselves to defend 285 on that wicket," said Essex captain Mark Pettini.
Essex played it to perfection, they deserve to be in the final and I'm glad they're there
Yorkshire captain Darren Gough
"There is a feeling of belief amongst our side, we beat Kent in the group stages and we'll give it everything we've got."
The firm wicket, clear skies and glorious sunshine made Pettini's decision to bat first a no-brainer and openers Jason Gallian and Cook immediately exploited some loose new-ball bowling from the Yorkshire seamers.
Cook, who played in just one of England's recent five one-day internationals against New Zealand, has struggled for runs all summer but will take confidence from his knock, which included 10 fours.
After Gallian had succumbed to Tim Bresnan's direct hit, former Essex man Gough and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan brought discipline to the attack and it paid off when Naved had Pettini caught superbly by an in-rushing Adam Lyth at deep square-leg.
Cook was able to capitalise on some poor Yorkshire fielding, putting on a 98-run stand with Ravi Bopara, but the pair fell in quick succession and it looked as though the match could have been swinging the visitors' way.
Five short of his ton, Cook became the second victim of a direct hit by Bresnan and, when umpire Peter Hartley adjudged Bopara to have edged Naved behind, Essex were reduced to 182-4.
Gough was bidding to bow out of county cricket with a Lord's final
Bopara, who fired a double century in his side's quarter-final against Leicestershire, had struggled to find any sort of rhythm but replays suggested he clipped his pad rather than the ball, hence his disinclination to walk.
Essex needed to pick up the run rate and Napier signalled their intent to do so by clubbing the first ball of the 43rd over off back over Matthew Hoggard for six.
Both Foster and Ten Doeschate fell attempting punish Rich Pyrah's medium pace but Napier, who struck a record 152 not out off 58 deliveries against Sussex in the Twenty20 Cup in June, continued to flourish.
The all-rounder, overlooked for England's provisional 30-man squad for September's ICC Champions Trophy, smashed Bresnan over mid-on for one of six sixes and then added a single to bring up his 27-ball half-century.
Napier and Grant Flower, who provided fine support, both fell during a final over in which Gough was hit for 14 runs.
Soon into Yorkshire's reply, Hartley courted further controversy by giving Lyth out lbw when David Masters' delivery appeared to strike the left-hander high and outside leg stump.
But Yorkshire's dismay swiftly turned to relief as Hartley ignored a huge, and seemingly legitimate, caught-behind appeal to spare McGrath.
And McGrath went on to forge an 84-run stand with Gale, who battled hard for his fourth first-class 50 before a total mix-up with his partner proved costly.
McGrath battled on but his wicket, taken by the excellent Kaneria to leave Yorkshire on 152-3, prompted a dramatic collapse.
Ten Doeschate removed Gerard Brophy, Adil Rashid and Jaques Rudolph in rapid succession and, while Naved offered some resistance with a four and a six in his quickfire 13, Kaneria trapped Gough to wrap up the win.
"We've done well to get this far but we didn't do ourselves justice," said Gough, the Yorkshire captain.
"When you're needing 8.5 runs an over against Danish Kaneria it's always going to be hard work. That's why Essex keep signing him - he keeps winning them games from that position. "Essex played it to perfection, they deserve to be in the final and I'm glad they're there."