Bowling coach Graeme Welch has backed the Birmingham Bears bowlers to bounce back hard from their tough time in last weekend’s Vitality Blast double-header.
The bowlers took some punishment as the Bears suffered defeats to Leicestershire Foxes and Durham Jets, conceding more than 200 runs in each game.
As white-ball cricket evolves, with scores going up year on year, it becomes more and more a batsman’s game with bowlers facing an onslaught, most of all in T20, from ball one.
Being a bowler in T20 cricket is tough and you have to do stay level and learn and have the courage to get back out there and put yourself on the line again.Graeme Welch
That means there will be days when serious flak flies – and Birmingham’s injury-hit bowling group suffered two of those last weekend. But with seamers Olly Stone and Aaron Thomason nearing fitness, possibly in time to face Northants Steelbacks at Edgbaston on Friday (7pm) that group will be fleshed out again – and Welch has no doubt about the Bears’ mental strength and capacity to fight back.
“It was a tough couple of games last weekend, mainly because we didn’t take early wickets,” he said. “Early wickets are so important because if you don’t get them, it means the batsmen can tee off all through the powerplay and beyond.
“But that will happen sometimes. Being a bowler in T20 cricket is tough and you have to do stay level and learn and have the courage to get back out there and put yourself on the line again.
“It will help to have Stoney and Aaron back in the group but we have a lot of really strong characters. Colin de Grandhomme is a champion of a man, Olly Hannon-Dalby would run through a brick wall for the Bears and Grant Elliott is just top-class – I love listening to him talk about cricket.
“Then we have Henry Brookes who is going at just over eight an over in the tournament despite bowling at the most difficult times of the innings. For a young guy of 18 that’s just exceptional.”
Come Friday, Birmingham would certainly settle for one of their bowlers reaping 4-0-8-1, the best T20 analysis ever by a Bear – by Rikki Clarke against the Steelbacks at Edgbaston in 2014.
But even though that was only four years ago, so rapidly is T20 batting evolving that Welch wonders whether such an analysis is already history.
“It is almost like baseball now, with third man and fine leg up and the batsmen teeing off,” he said. “You have to be brave to be a bowler in T20 cricket and we have plenty of people with that sort of character.”