Reigning NatWestT20Blast champions Birmingham Bears recorded their first win in this year’s competition with a 18-run derby triumph over Worcestershire Rapids at Edgbaston.
Put in on a slow pitch, the Bears made 144 for five, a modest total but one they defended comfortably as the Rapids, playing their first game in this year’s tournament, replied with only 126.
The win continued Birmingham’s happy home trend against their arch-rivals. It was their sixth win in seven T20 tussles between the teams at Edgbaston.
Birmingham’s innings contained a string of small parts without a leading role as batsmen found it hard going. Brett D’Oliveira led the way in a disciplined collective bowling effort with 4-0-21-2 and 19-year-old debutant Ed Barnard impressed with 4-0-29-0 as their tidy work forced mistakes as the batsmen tried to force the pace.
The most assertive knocks came at the beginning and end. Opener William Porterfield hit three sixes in a 21-ball 27 before missing with a big hit at Joe Leach. Jeetan Patel went in with his side struggling on 104 for five in the 17th over and hit cleanly for an unbeaten 23 from ten balls.
Patel’s unbroken partnership of 40 from 29 balls with Ateeq Javid (18, 17 balls) lifted the Bears to a total which was decent, if by no means daunting.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore (21, 13 balls) gave the Rapids’ reply early momentum until Recordo Gordon, playing his first game of the season for the Bears, came on for the fifth over and took wickets with his second and fourth balls. Kohler-Cadmore swatted a full toss to deep mid-wicket and Alex Gidman edged to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose and fell for a golden duck.
Barnard’s debut innings ended in a slapstick run out with he and captain Daryl Mitchell meeting at the same end. Mitchell added 35 in six overs with Ross Whiteley but when he perished to Patel for 34 (31 ball), lifting a catch to deep mid-wicket, his team desperately needed some later-order heroics.
Ben Cox couldn’t provide them, departing after a run out mix-up with Whiteley. The former Derbyshire player looked likeliest to smite the Rapids to victory, lifting Rikki Clarke for six and hitting four fours on his way to 33 from 29 balls but when he sought to repeat the blow off Clarke but found only Patel on the deep mid-wicket boundary, it was 99 for eight and his team’s hopes went with him.