Report: Bears v Lightning, Vitality Blast
Bears extended their 100 per cent start to the Vitality Blast and ended Lancashire Lightning’s with a commanding seven-wicket victory in front of a sun-soaked 11,243 crowd at Edgbaston.
After choosing to bat, Lightning tumbled all out for 98 after losing their last seven wickets for 36 runs in 35 balls. They were spun to destruction as Danny Briggs took four for 15, Dan Mousley three for 13 and Jake Lintott two for 24. Only Steven Croft (22, 13 balls) passed 20 for the visitors.
Lightning desperately needed to strike early when the Bears replied but openers Alex Davies (51 not out, 39 balls – his maiden Blast fifty for the Bears) and Rob Yates (30, 24 balls) added an untroubled 50 by the seventh over to set up a victory stroll. The Bears reached 99 for three with 34 balls to spare.
With Phil Salt ruled out by a back spasm, Josh Bohannon came into the Lightning side to open the batting but perished fourth ball, bowled through a mow at Glenn Maxwell. Luke Wells, scorer of a match-winning 66 against Derbyshire Falcons on this ground nine days earlier, fell in the next over to a superb return catch, clutched centimetres from the ground, by Mousley.
Croft bashed 18 from four balls from Henry Brookes to get the innings going momentarily but the bowler gained his revenge when he was waiting at square leg to accept a catch when Croft lifted a sweep at Mousley. That was 62 for three and from that point the Lightning fell in a heap in the face of fine spin bowling backed up by brilliant fielding.
Mousley switched ends to bowl the dangerous Liam Livingstone first ball back. Chris Benjamin took a stinging slip catch to prevent Colin de Grandhomme damaging his former team. Mousley made a steepling catch at long off from Daryl Mitchell look simple and Rob Yates took a blinder at extra cover to oust Luke Wood.
Wood was the second of Briggs’ four victims as he plucked off the tail with three wickets in four balls and Lightning committed the heinous T20 crime of leaving 31 balls unused.
Faced with such a meagre target. Yates allowed himself the Blast luxury of a leave, first ball, and the Bears openers killed the game dead with a stand 50 of in 39 balls. Yates top-edged a sweep at Matt Parkinson to short fine leg and Maxwell’s home debut knock yielded only two from three balls before he missed an attempt to carve Hartley through the off side, but it was already game over.
Sam Hain reached the crease facing one of the less exerting equations he has faced over the years – 37 needed from 74 balls with eight wickets in hand. He was soon bowled by Wells’ third ball but Davies advanced smoothly to his 16th Blast half-century and the captain eased his side home to the jubilation of most in the big crowd, though you got the feeling a fair few of them would have swapped the cakewalk for a more gripping contest in perfect bank holiday weather.
Bears all-rounder Dan Mousley said: “We are absolutely over the moon with the start we have made. To beat a really good team like Lancashire and make it three wins on the bounce is very pleasing. We just wanted to go out there and be professional and we did that and it shows where we are as a team. We are absolutely flying in both red and white ball cricket.
“We didn’t really sense that this was going to be a game for the slow bowlers but we talk about being adaptable because so much depends on who can adapt quickest, and we did that really well today. Maxy got the early wicket and then we thought, ‘okay. it’s going to offer a bit of assistance to the spinners’ and we took advantage of that. We had two seamers today in Milo and Barny who didn’t bowl a ball and they are capable of coming on and changing a game.
“I love bowling and playing away in the ILT20 last winter I just learned as much as I could by bowling to some of the best players in the world. It made me realise that I am actually okay at it and I have brought that confidence back here. The fact that Davo and the coaches trust me to do it is great and it seems to be coming out quite well.
“The lads fielded brilliantly today and I was pleased to pick up a decent catch. I dropped Malan in the first game of the season and that hit us hard, so I was pleased with that one. It died on me a little bit, low to my right, so I dived forward and luckily it stuck in my right hand.”