Vitality Blast
Sun 18 July, 14:30

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Bears

Bears

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Bears

Northamptonshire Steelbacks

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Blast Report: Bears v Steelbacks

Birmingham Bears have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast after closing their group campaign with a 14-run victory over Northamptonshire Steelbacks. 

Qualification to the knock-out rounds was confirmed after Worcestershire Rapids failed to defeat Leicestershire Foxes at Grace Road in the evening’s fixture, meaning the Bears finished fourth in the North Group and will now face Kent in the last eight on Friday 27 August, 7pm.

The Bears’ total of 191 for five owed much to a dazzling debut from Chris Benjamin. The 22-year-old struck an unbeaten 60 (34 balls, seven fours, two sixes) to lead a recovery from 68 for four. 

The Steelbacks, qualification hopes long extinct, mustered 177 for eight in reply. They threatened briefly through Ricardo Vasconcelos (39, 33 balls) and Josh Cobb (35, 18 balls) and Rob Keogh bashed an unbeaten 55 (33 balls) when the cause was lost, but the chase fell away in the face of pressure built by superb spin bowling – 4-0-20-2 – from Jake Lintott.  

After choosing to bat, the Bears received a brisk start from Adam Hose. The opener was injured embarking on a quick single on five, resumed with a runner and struck 37 (28 balls) before skying Graeme White to long on.  

Three wickets fell in seven balls as Tom Taylor’s excellent throw punished Kyle Mayers for hesitating at the start of a second run and Freddie Heldreich trapped Sam Hain lbw. 

That was 68 for four but Benjamin, having already had a chance to acclimatise himself as a runner for Hose, started audaciously by reverse-sweeping his first ball for four. That launched a stand off 84 in 52 balls with skipper Will Rhodes (32, 25 balls), the debutant racing to a 27-ball half-century. 

Fourteen balls remained when Rhodes lifted Mohammad Nabi to deep mid-wicket. Those 14 balls produced 39 runs as Carlos Brathwaite celebrated his 33rd birthday with three sixes in a thunderous ten-ball 27. 

After the Steelbacks lost Ben Curran, lbw to Yates, to the seventh ball, Vasconcelos and Cobb thrashed 65 in 34 balls before Cobb was brilliantly caught by Rhodes at mid on off Craig Miles. 

Seven runs from Lintott’s first two overs cranked up the pressure which told when Vasconcelos top-edged Rhodes to short third man. Lintott removed Taylor and White with successive balls and the Steelbacks’ Blast campaign was laid to rest while the Bears’ attention turned to Leicester… 

Blast Preview: Bears v Steelbacks

“We have got to win our last game and win it well – that’s all we can do,” – that is captain Will Rhodes’ assessment of the Bears crucial final Vitality Blast group match at home to Northamptonshire Steelbacks tomorrow.

The Bears’ kept alive their hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals last night with a pulsating victory over Worcestershire Rapids inside a buoyant Edgbaston.

Another big atmosphere is assured tomorrow when the Bears face another must-win match. They need to beat the Steelbacks and also hope that one of Lancashire Lightning (at home to Yorkshire Phoenix this evening) or Worcestershire Rapids (away to Leicestershire Foxes tomorrow evening) slip up.

Rhodes’s side will go into the match with confidence boosted by a bullish  victory over arch-rivals Rapids at Edgbaston – a result which owed much to powerhouse performances from Sam Hain and Carlos Brathwaite in a scintillating century stand.

“It was a brilliant innings from Hainy,” said Rhodes.  “He is arguably the best white-ball player in the country at the minute and we are very lucky to have him. That innings was typical of him at his best. In so many of those situations, when the game is on the line, he just drags it back so skilfully.

“It was a great effort from Carlos too. To come back into the side and light up Edgbaston with his batting was just a stunning spectacle and then he bowled beautifully as well. We brought him in to win us games of cricket ad he certainly did that tonight and he has given us a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

“Now we have got to win our last game and win it well – that’s all we can do. There is no reason why we can’t, having just put in a really strong performance against the Rapids.

“We know how Northants play and we have already beaten them in the tournament this year so hopefully we can do the same again. We all remember what happened in the corresponding game last year so that is another good motivation for us tomorrow.

“A few pieces have got to fall into places for us to qualify but we will just think about what we have to do and give absolutely everything we’ve got for the Bears.”

The Bears have named an unchanged squad. Chris Woakes, who was hoped would be available, has a knee injury so has been withdrawn as a precaution.

The Bears and Steelbacks have faced each other more than any other side in the Blast over the years and fought out some fantastic tussles along the way as the series scores suggests. They have met 36 times, with the Bears winning 18 and the Steelbacks 17 with one game tied.

Squad

Will Rhodes (C), Carlos Brathwaite, Danny Briggs, Michael Burgess (WK), Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Matt Lamb, Jake Lintott, Kyle Mayers, Craig Miles, Ed Pollock, Ryan Sidebottom, Rob Yates.

How to follow

Tickets for the fixture have sold out.

Bears Members and supporters can also follow the Club from home via the Match Centre on edgbaston.com and through the Edgbaston app (available for free on iOS and Android).

Bears Den TV returns for all home Vitality Blast home games hosted by Beccy Wood and starting on our YouTube page.

Live scorecard

The match live scorecard will appear here once the match is in play.

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