One year ago, the Birmingham Bears were at Chelmsford to take on the Essex Eagles for a place at Finals Day and a shot at winning the domestic T20 trophy for the first time in their history. A year later and with trophy in hand, the Bears were able to beat them again, winning by 24 runs in the quarter final that this year took place at Edgbaston.
Essex won the toss and decided to bowl first, a decision likely influenced by the weather and the delayed start we suffered. However, with no overs lost, the game went ahead to its full amount of overs as scheduled.
Things got off well for Essex when they were able to get returning England star Ian Bell for just 7 when he was caught by captain Ryan ten Doeschate off the bowling of Reece Topley.
Bears captain Varun Chopra looked unsettled at the crease, mistiming his shots and generally looking out of rhythm. He got a life line when he sent a ball sky high – the wicket keeper Foster called for it and looked comfortable until he fumbled the ball on impact with the ground.
Porterfield played some nice shots to hit the Bears’s first sixes, before he edged to fine leg and was caught by Graham Napier for 23. Chopra began to find a groove before he tamely chipped one up to Tom Westley off Ravi Bopara’s bowling to see himself dismissed for 18.
Rikki Clarke had a quick fire cameo of 18 from 13 before ten Doeschate took his wicket, bowling after Graham Napier limped off with injury after bowling just 7 balls. It saw Laurie Evans and Chris Woakes at the crease who would go on to make the big scores Warwickshire desperately needed.
Evans made a half century in just 30 balls for the Bears, where as Woakes fell 2 runs short ending on 48 not out. It meant the Bears posted a total of 189, meaning the Eagles needed 190 to win.
Essex started out in a similar to fashion to Birmingham, with the run chase closely matching what the hosts had set throughout. Their first wicket fell after Mark Pettini tried to cut Rikki Clarke but picked out Jeetan Patel who took a sharp catch.
Jesse Ryder was the next man to go for 28 after he was caught trying to smash one down the ground only to find Clarke.
Essex’s biggest partnership then took place with Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara making a stand during the middle overs. It was broken when Westley skied one from Chris Woakes and Clarke comfortably took the catch at long off.
Bopara departed 5 balls later when he played around a delivery from Jeetan Patel, allowing it to cannon into his stumps.
Despite keeping in touch of Birmingham’s score throughout the latter overs, you didn’t see enough big hitting from Nick Browne and ten Doeschate to really feel Essex had a chance of causing an upset at Edgbaston. They went for 23 and 13 respectively as the Eagles could only muster a total of 165.
It meant the Bears won by 24 runs and booked their place at Finals Day to defend their title, which takes place once again at Edgbaston on Saturday 29th August. They join Northants as the only semi finalists confirmed so far, after David Willey scored a brilliant 100 off 40 balls to see them safely through to the bumper day in Birmingham.
Man of the Match: Chris Woakes