Report: Birmingham Phoenix Men v Oval Invincibles
Birmingham Phoenix turned the Men’s Hundred table upside down by thrashing leaders Oval Invincibles by 41 runs at Edgbaston.
Without a victory in the tournament before tonight, Phoenix had to win to stay alive in the competition and responded with a vastly-improved display assisted by the availability of England star Chris Woakes.
Phoenix totalled a meaty 160 for eight after Jamie Smith’s high-class 60 (33 balls) lifted them out of early trouble. Their new ball pair Woakes and Adam Milne then began brilliantly, restricting Invincibles to 12 for one from 20 balls.
The visitors never recovered. They finished on 119 for nine (Kane Richardson four for 32) to suffer their first defeat of the campaign with a further blow coming from the loss of batter Jordan Cox who retired hurt in great pain after being hit on the hand by a rising ball from Milne.
After Phoenix were put in they at first stuttered in familiar fashion as Will Smeed chipped Zak Chappell to extra cover, Ben Duckett skied a slog-sweep at Nathan Sowter and Liam Livingstone pulled Sowter to long leg where Heinrich Klaasen made a difficult catch look ridiculously easy.
At 44 for three from 35 balls, the innings was wobbling but Smith heaved it into motion by smashing 20 from four balls from Sowter and Sunil Narine. Smith and Moeen AIi (33, 26) rebuilt the innings with a stand of 75 in 46 balls before the latter went for a quixotic bye to wicketkeeper Sam Billings and was run out by the direct hit.
Smith heaved Chappell into the hands of Jason Roy at long off but Dan Mousley, Chris Benjamin and Milne all cleared the ropes to ensure a challenging target. Less productive was Woakes’ return to Edgbaston with the bat after he hoiked his first ball to deep mid-wicket to become the final victim in Chappell’s four for 33.
Woakes was spot on with the ball, though, conceding just three runs from his first set when Invincibles replied. Milne then struck with his first ball, which Will Jacks edged to slip, and the Kiwi inflicted a different type of damage with his sixth which rose into Cox’s hand, forcing him off the field.
After Woakes had Klaasen caught at slip, the visitors were 21 for two from 25 balls with another batter down and clearly in too much pain to return. More evidence that this was Phoenix’s night arrived when Roy feathered a reverse-sweep at Benny Howell’s second ball and the ball bounced off wicketkeeper Chris Benjamin grille down into his gloves.
Only a flailing miracle could preserve Invincible’s unbeaten record but the middle and lower order flailed in vain against a Phoenix side which will face Southern Brave in Southampton on Wednesday with confidence well and truly rebooted.
Smith said: “It’s been a tough couple of games, especially with the bat, we didn’t really leave our bowlers anything to spend in the first two games that weren’t rained out, so to put on that sort of performance tonight against a very strong Oval side was impressive.
“We have always tried to play positively, that is the sort of brand that we are going for, we want to take the game on, but this is probably the first time we were able to get a little partnership together. It was good for Moeen and I to do that – it was almost a case of hit out or get out because at one stage we were looking at an average score on a pretty good surface. So we decided at that point to take the game on and luckily it came off.
“In Adam Milne and Chris Woakes you are talking about two world class bowlers so to have them available for us is fantastic and it’s no surprise to see what they can do with how talented they are. Everyone knows how big momentum is when you are losing or when you are winning so to get on a little winning run now, towards the back end of the tournament might be crucial for us to qualify. If not, we’ll just keep playing the same brand that served us so well tonight and hopefully we can keep doing that and entertaining the crowd.”
Additional tickets released for first three days of West Indies Test
A small number of tickets have been released for the first three days of our Men’s Test against West Indies this summer (26-30 Juy).
Tickets are limited for these day and are expected to sell quickly. Early Bird tickets for Day Four are still available if purchased before midnight on 31 March.