Vitality Blast Report: Bears v Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire brushed Birmingham Bears aside by 57 runs in a truncated thrash in the Central Group of the Vitality Blast at Edgbaston.
In a game shortened to 12 overs per side by rain, Gloucestershire piled up 157 for three thanks principally to Ian Cockbain’s explosive unbeaten 84 from just 38 balls with six fours and seven sixes.
A second-wicket stand of 89 in 40 balls from Cockbain and Miles Hammond (41, 23 balls, six fours, one six) ensured the Bears would be facing a hefty target.
The mighty scoreboard pressure then told on the home side as they mustered only 100 all out in reply with left arm spinner Tom Smith taking a career best five for 16. From 55 for one, Birmingham lost their last nine wickets for 45 runs in 42 balls.
After Gloucestershire were put in, Dan Mousley, making his T20 debut, bowled Chris Dent with his fourth ball, but Hammond and Cockbain hit freely. They took their side to 42 from four overs and then smashed 22 from the fifth as Cockbain welcomed Tim Bresnan into the attack with a four followed by three successive sixes, over mid wicket, long off and extra cover.
Two more successive sixes, flat-batted over long off, then hoisted over cover, off Olly Stone, took the former Lancashire player to 50 from 19 balls.
Hammond’s impressive support role ended when he lifted Henry Brookes to point but Gloucestershire’s momentum remained high, with only two of the 12 overs costing less than ten runs. Cockbain charged on, chanced his arm, usually connecting sweetly and earning the luck that saw one or two edges speed away to the boundary.
Birmingham omitted Ian Bell from the side to make room for a hitter in the shortened contest, but they took just three runs from the first over from Graeme van Buuren.
Ed Pollock (21, 13 balls, three sixes) got the Bears going with two sixes in the next over from David Payne but perished in the next when he missed an attempted big hit at Van Buuren and was bowled.
Adam Hose and Sam Hain took the Bears to a reasonably promising 55 for one but the innings was then sent into freefall by three wickets in an over. Smith had Hose stumped and Hain superbly caught at long on by a diving Cockbain, then Will Rhodes was run out after responding to a misjudged call for a single by Michael Burgess.
Burgess himself perished, bowled by Ryan Higgins in the next over and then Smith ended Mousley’s debut knock at just three in five balls. The 33-year-old had his third five-for in T20 cricket after Bresnan and Stone sent up catces. That was 83 for eight and by now the Bears were flailing wildly in the wilderness while Gloucestershire home and hosed.