The Birmingham Bears fans who travel to the Emirates Old Trafford in June would happily settle for a repeat of the entertainment levels from the North Group tussle between the teams there last season. It was a magnificent spectacle, culminating in a happy ending with a Bears victory by just one run!

This year Birmingham are on a mission to seize the trophy back from their old friend.

Brian Halford, Club Journalist

All the pre-match attention centred on Brendon McCullum’s debut but he made only 18 as the Bears totalled 137 for eight, thanks principally to Varun Chopra (40) and Will Porterfield (36).

Lancashire Lightning then appeared to be heading for a comfortable victory when they needed 36 from the last five overs with six wickets in hand. Step forward Recordo Gordon!

Earlier on, Gordon had hit his first ball faced in the format for six. Now he bowled superbly under pressure to take four for 20 as the Bears snuck home by a single run.

Lancashire Lightning went on to lift the NatWestT20Blast trophy, of course, wresting it from Birmingham’s grip in their first season under the command of former Bears director of cricket Ashley Giles. Giles never cracked T20 during his time with the Bears, suffering a series of frustrating quarter-final exits, but hit the bullseye first-time with the Lightning.

This year Birmingham are on a mission to seize the trophy back from their old friend – and keen to even up the T20 tally with the Lightning, having won only two of eight completed games between the teams.

All is set for a midsummer cracker (Manchester weather permitting!) on one of the great stages of English cricket. Few cricket venues have changed as radically in recent years as the Emirates Old Trafford but the visiting Bears fans are sure to find the usual lively atmosphere for this Sunday afternoon cracker.