One-Day Cup Report: Northants Steelbacks v Warwickshire
Warwickshire’s Royal London Cup campaign took a hit from West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder’s ICC World Cup warm-up stint in county cricket as they suffered a 194-run defeat to Northants Steelbacks at Wantage Road.
Conditions were redolent of midsummer with a lovely, sunny day, ice-creams selling like hot-cakes and a belter of a batting pitch – and the home side duly piled up 358 for six, their third-highest List A score.
The true pitch offered no margin for error to a Bears bowling attack missing the injured Olly Stone, Liam Norwell and Aaron Thomason and the unavailable Chris Woakes.
Three wickets from Henry Brookes reduced the Steelbacks to 76 for three but the middle-order then made hay. Alex Wakely, Richard Keogh and Adam Rossington struck half-centuries before Holder’s onslaught (60 from 31 balls) turned the total from impressive to imposing.
The Barbadian then blasted out Sam Hain and Ed Pollock in his first 13 balls as the Bears stuttered to 45 for four, a bad start from which there was no way back. Holder ended with three for 26 and the Bears, all out for 164, head into a home double-header against Nottinghamshire on Tuesday and Durham on Friday still looking for their first win in the group after a tie and a defeat.
After Northants were put in, Brookes struck immediately when his third ball bowled Josh Cobb. Richard Levi (48, 37 balls) and Ricardo Vasconcelas added 66 before Brookes removed both. Vasconcelas, beaten for pace, played on and Levi edged behind to provide Tim Ambrose with 978th dismissal in senior cricket.
From 76 for three, the Steelbacks built steadily. Wakeley struck a crisp 50 (49 balls) and, after he fell lbw to Jeetan Patel, Keogh (69, 87 balls) and Rossington (68, 58), who both received their county caps before the game, added 90 in 14 overs.
Patel trapped Keogh lbw and Rossington chipped Alex Thomson to mid-wicket but in the closing overs Holder launched some thunderous blows to hit three of the innings’ ten sixes and five of its 37 fours.
In reply, the Bears suffered a succession of quick blows from Holder and highly promising Zimbabwean 22-year-old Blessed Muzarabani. The latter induced fatal outside-edges from Dom Sibley and Ambrose and the former speared one into Sam Hain’s pads to win an lbw decision and had Ed Pollock (36, 27 balls, five fours, one six) caught at third man.
That left the Bears four down with more than 300 still required and Liam Banks fell next, his middle stump removed by Nathan Buck. Will Rhodes (30, 37 balls) and Brookes were caught at deep square leg and extra cover respectively off successive balls from Ben Sanderson.
Craig Miles holed out to mid-off before Holder and Muzarabani returned to take another wicket apiece as Thomson (36, 36 balls) chipped into the infield and Geroge Panayi missed with a stroke of aggressive intent.