Following a disappointing loss against Notts Outlaws the previous week, Birmingham Bears were looking to kick start their Natwest T20 Blast campaign, and they did just that with an 18 run win over derby rivals Worcestershire Rapids at Edgbaston.
It was the Rapids who won the toss and put the Bears into bat first, on a pitch that should have favoured the side batting second, with overcast conditions and a damp pitch ideal for swing bowling. But the Bears batted well and finished with a total of 144-5 off their 20 overs.
Openers William Porterfield and Varun Chopra got the Bears off to a decent start, Porterfield in particular playing fluently for 27 off 21 balls which included three sixes, before he was bowled by Leach (4-0-35-1). It was then home debutant Joe Lewis who took the attack to the Rapids attack making 27 off 24 balls before he was left stranded out of his crease and stumped by Cox off a clever bit of bowling from experienced campaigner Sachintra Senanayake (4-0-30-1).
Captain Chopra and Laurie Evans then batted well in tandem, before Brett D’Oliveira, who impressed, took his first wicket removing Chopra for a patient 27 off 26 with him caught on the boundary by Whiteley. And Rikki Clarke was removed soon after failing to make much of an impact was he was bowled by D’Oliveira who finished with figures of 4-0-21-2. Another youngster, debutant Ed Barnard, 19, also impressed bowling tidily with several close LBW appeals (4-0-29-0).
But it was Jeetan Patel and Ateeq Javid who added a nice gloss to the Bear’s final score each hitting some lusty blows towards the end of the innings, Patel in particular, who smashed his was to 23 off 10 including some powerful straight strikes. Leaving the Bears with a competitive score of 144-5.
The Rapids then began their chase and got off to the worst possible start with Rikki Clarke (4-0-26-3) having Oliver caught off a leading edge for a duck. Captain, Daryl Mithcell and Tom Kohler- Cadmore put together a promising partnership before Recordo Gordon had his first scalp of the day having Kohler- Cadmore caught at mid- on by Clarke having batted well for 21 off 13. And Gordon was in the wickets again shortly after having Alex Gidman caught behind by Tim Ambrose for a duck.
Barnard’s debut ended disastrously in a run out, but Ross Whiteley and Mitchell then put together a 35 run partnership before Mitchell holed out to deep square off Patel (4-0-17-1) for 34 0ff 31. This was the beginning of the end for the Rapids as they quickly slumped from 82-4 to 99-8 with Clarke picking up two more wickets and Javid (4-0-22-1) having Whiteley crucially caught on the boundary for 33 off 29 with one six and four boundaries. Before Gordon returned to the attack to rearrange Jack Shantry’s stumps to end the Rapids’ chase on 126, 18 runs short and finish with superb figures of (3.3-0-18-3).
A comprehensive bowling performance from the Bears, to cap off an all-round top performance, who will take momentum into next week’s Natwest T20 Blast clash with last year’s dark horses Northants.