Blast Report: Bears @ Foxes
Leicestershire Foxes skipper Colin Ackermann made Twenty20 history by taking seven wickets in his four overs as the Foxes thrashed Birmingham Bears by 55 runs at the Fischer County Ground.
More than 30 bowlers in world cricket have taken six wickets in an innings but Ackermann is the first to take seven.
The off-spinner took three wickets in a single over twice on his way to staggering figures of seven for 18.
The best figures before Ackermann’s incredible spell were achieved by Arul Suppiah, who took six for five for Somerset against Glamorgan at Cardiff in 2011.
It was a third win in four matches for the Foxes after Harry Swindells and Lewis Hill both hit maiden half-centuries in this format as the Foxes ran up 189 for six in their 20 overs.
The Bears had suffered two injury blows on the day of the match, with England paceman Olly Stone ruled out with a recurrence of a back injury, news which was quickly followed by confirmation that Australian spinner Ashton Agar would miss the remainder of the Blast campaign with a fracture and ligament damage to his right ankle.
But that took nothing away from the Foxes performance, who looked favourites to take the two points even before Ackermann stepped up to make history.
The Bears lost openers Dom Sibley and Michael Burgess in the first four overs, the latter falling to a splendid catch taken just off the ground by Harry Dearden at short extra cover as Ackermann struck for the first time.
However, a loose second over from Gavin Griffths, who had dismissed Sibley via a catch at midwicket, cost 16 runs and the Bears were only just off the pace at 46 for two after six overs.
Hain was playing nicely but Leicestershire offered few easy hits and at 77 for two at the halfway stage, Birmingham needed 113 from 10 overs.
Adam Hose clubbed 17 of the 22 runs conceded by Arron Lilley’s offspin in the 11th to give the Bears renewed impetus as he and Hain added 91 in nine and a half overs but after Hose was bowled by Will Davis making room to cut, the visitors’ innings somewhat fell apart.
Will Rhodes was bowled by Foxes skipper Colin Ackermann, the wicket confirmed only on review, replays showing that the off-spinner’s delivery clipping the bails on its way through to ‘keeper Hill, umpire David Millns asking for a second look to check it had not been a stumping attempt.
Two balls later, Liam Banks offered a return catch before Ackermann bowled Alex Thomson two balls after that.
To the delight of a crowd who had watched the Foxes suffer two heavy defeats in the two completed home matches before this one, Ackermann repeated the trick in his next over as Hain and Jeetan Patel were caught at deep midwicket in almost identical fashion, with Henry Brookes bowled in between.
To cap his night, Ackermann then claimed a catch off Gavin Griffiths as the Bears were dismissed for 134 in 17.4 overs.
Buoyed by away wins against Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Worcestershire Rapids during a three-game stint on the road, the Foxes had made another positive start with the bat.
Openers Swindells and Mark Cosgrove shared seven boundaries in the first four overs and though Cosgrove perished when he lofted off-spinner Thomson straight down mid-on’s throat, Swindells smacked Brookes through cover and before flicking him to fine leg for two more fours to help his side to 50 for one from the opening six overs.
The Bears attack was unable to mount any sustained pressure. Swindells survived a valiant attempt by Brookes to take a diving catch at mid-on off a slower ball from Rhodes but a costly first over of the night from Bears captain Patel saw Leicestershire reach the halfway stage at 96 for one after Lilley had hit him for six, four and six off consecutive balls.
The visitors made some gains in the next five overs, Thomson striking an important blow to dismiss Lilley for 28 and the Foxes suffered another setback when Burgess took a superb one-handed catch on the leg side as Ackerman fell for just four on what was not his best night with the bat.
But a powerful display of hitting from Hill, smashing 58 from 30 deliveries including a slog-sweep for six off Fidel Edwards and two in a row off Patel, helped Leicestershire post a challenging total.
Hill and Swindells added 62 in six overs before an attempted scoop against Brookes saw the latter caught behind. Brookes then took two in two balls to finish the innings well for the Bears, jogging to his right to get under a Hill miscue before yorking Harry Dearden to finish with three for 26.
Former West Indies Test bowler Fidel Edwards, who took three wickets in a sensational first over of the match as Birmingham defeated the Foxes by seven wickets at Edgbaston last month, this time finished wicketless and conceded 45 runs in his four overs.