Report: Bears v Durham, Vitality Blast
Chris Benjamin’s violent half-century blazed Birmingham Bears to a five-wicket Vitality Blast win over Durham at Edgbaston.
Chasing the visitors’ 158 for nine, the Bears were wobbling at 36 for four before Benjamin (68 not out from 36 balls, six fours, four sixes) seized control in a stand of 85 in 42 balls with Adam Hose (29, 21 balls).
Durham chose to bat but 158 looked under par on a good batting pitch. Only Paul Coughlin (40, 33 balls) passed 21 while Henry Brooke took three for 38, Danny Briggs two for 23 and Craig Miles two for 29.
Brydon Carss then struck twice early on to put the Bears under pressure before Benjamin decided the game with a display of power hitting which peaked with an assault of 37 from nine successive balls as the Bears reached 162 for five from 16.5 overs.
Liam Trevaskis, skippering Durham for the first time with Aussie ace Ashley Turner sidelined by a dislocated shoulder, won the toss and watched his side get off to a flier. Cameos from Michael Jones (21, 13 balls) and Graham Clark (16, eight) lifted their side to 44 for one from 25 balls but the next 27 balls brought 27 for four as the Bears bit back.
Carlos Brathwaite took a wicket with his first ball and Miles struck with his fourth and fifth when Jones chipped to mid on and Ned Eckerseley was lbw. When David Bedingham was trapped in front by Briggs, the Durham were 71 for five but Coughlin and Scott Borthwick rebuilt with a stand of 43 in 36 balls and Ben Raine biffed a late 16 from eight balls to provide late impetus.
Durham then took that impetus into the field to reduce the Bears to 36 for four. Carss was the catalyst, delivering two excellent overs for just five runs while taking two wickets – Jake Bethell, bowled by a yorker, and Alex Davies, caught at point.
Jon Bushnell, fielding as 12th man and still to play a first-team game for Durham, added a memorable first contribution at senior level with a stunning catch, taken over his shoulder sprinting back from point, to remove Rob Yates.
After a brief recce, Benjamin and Hose then climbed into spectacular counter-attack. Benjamin raced to a 22-ball half-century and the pair took their stands in successive matches to a combined 183 from 84 balls before Hose lifted Trevaskis to long off.
The partnership had broken the back of the chase. Skipper Brathwaite went in with 38 needed from 45 balls, only 26 of which were required for the Bears to maintain their 100 per cent start to the Blast.