Vitality Blast 2020
Sun 20 September, 13:00

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Northamptonshire Steelbacks

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Vitality Blast Report: Bears v Northants Steelbacks

Northants Steelbacks booked their place in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals with a stunning three-wicket victory over Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston. 

A wildly fluctuating match was yanked the Steelbacks’ way in the closing stages when a violent assault from Tom Taylor (50 not out, 26 balls, seven fours, two sixes) and Graeme White (37 not out, 13 balls, two fours, four sixes) saw them collect an unlikely 73 from the last six overs. 

The Bears totalled a hefty 191 for five having been rescued from 20 for four by a fifth-wicket stand of 171 from 99 balls between Adam Hose and  Dan Mousley. Hose blasted his maiden T20 century (119, 64 balls, nine fours, seven sixes) while 19-year-old Mousley struck a T20-best unbeaten 58 (44 balls, five fours, one sixยญ). 

The Steelbacks reply hit trouble at 28 for three and 71 for six but Taylor, making his debut after moving across the east Midlands from Leicestershire Foxes, and White hit cleanly to see their side home with seven balls to spare. 

The Bears chose to bat but the Steelbacks quickly took control by taking two wickets in the third over and two more in the fourth. Taylor’s first ball for Northants was lifted for six by Rob Yates but his second had the batsman caught at mid on. Will Rhodes was then bowled, first ball. 

Ben Sanderson followed up with two quickfire blows with successive balls as Bears linchpin Sam Hain was trapped lbw and Michael Burgess edged to Richard Levi at slip. 

That was 20 for four but Hose and Mousley rebuilt, first carefully and then with increasing aggression. Hose reached 50 from 37 balls and then galloped to his century in just another 17 balls to become the third Bears T20 century-maker alongside Brendon McCullum and Ian Bell.ย 

Mousley played the perfect supporting role, posting his maiden T20 half-century from 37 balls. 

Northants’ reply suffered early damage as three wickets fell in the first 20 balls. Jake Lintott was involved in them all, taking smart catches to remove Richard Levi and Adam Rossington off Tim Bresnan and ousting Josh Cobb via a catch by Mousley at extra cover. Lintott swooped again, this time at mid on, to dismiss Procter to leave Bresnan with three for 16 from his first three overs. 

Paul Stirling’s dangerous innings – 38, 23 balls, six four, one six – was ended by a gloved pull at Liam Norwell and when Saif Zaib became the fourth batsmen caught by Lintott, the Steelbacks were 71 for six. 

But Taylor and Rob Keogh (37, 24 balls) clubbed a stand of 69 in 34 balls to keep their side in contention and then White arrived to crown a stunning fightback with a blitz of boundaries to seal the Steelbacks’ place in the last eight.  

For the Bears, meanwhile, there was heartbreak, not least for club legend Jeetan Patel whose great Warwickshire career, which brought so much joy and success, had concluded with a devastating defeat. 

Vitality Blast Preview: Bears v Northants Steelbacks

Birmingham Bears know that a place in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals will be theirs if they beat Northants Steelbacks in their final group game at Edgbaston on Sunday (1pm).

Friday night’s victory over Worcestershire Rapids kept the Bears’ destiny firmly in their own hands. Another win tomorrow will take them into the last eight for sure, while a defeat would leave them dependent on an unlikely combination of results elsewhere.

They will face the Steelbacks with strong momentum behind them – four wins from the last five games – but batsman Sam Hain believes the Bears still have “another gear” to find.

“It was a great win last night and we have good momentum so we just need to keep it going tomorrow,” Hain said. “But I don’t think we are playing at 100 per cent yet by any means.

“There is still more for us to find and another gear for us to go up, so hopefully come Sunday we can put in a really good performance and clinch qualification.”

Sam Hain

The Bears’ charge for the quarter-finals owes plenty to the excellent batting of Hain. In eight innings in this year’s tournament he is averaging 70.75, including three half-centuries.

Already during this year’s Blast, he has climbed from sixth to second in the list of top Bears T20 run-scorers, overhauling Varun Chopra, Will Porterfield, Jim Troughton and Jonathan Trott to now have only Ian Bell ahead of him.

Hain is very quick, however, to flag up the collective effort which has powered the Bears’ campaign.

“Any success is a team effort and in the last few games a lot of different players have contributed for us,” he said. “That’s what we need, blokes wanting to put their hands up and put performances in for the Bears.

“With the ball, Henry Brookes and Olly Stone closed it out brilliantly against Worcester and different players putting their hands up at different times. On Friday night, it was Henry and Olly,  come tomorrow it could be another two or another three and it’s great to have so many players who we know are capable of putting in match-changing performances whether with bat and ball.

“As long as we have got players going out there clear in their minds and wanting to nail their skills, that’s all we can ask for.”

Watch Live

Members and supporters can watch the Bears all-important final game of the Central Group live on, on our YouTube page or via the Edgbaston app with our brand new Bears Den TV show, hosted by Beccy Wood and Adam Bridge.

Coverage starts at 12.30pm, with play due to start at 1pm. Weโ€™ll bring you build-up, live match coverage and chances to get involved and win prizes during the game.

The live stream will be available completely free and you can download the Edgbaston app which is available on iOS and Android.

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