A disciplined bowling performance and a captain’s knock by Alex Lees gave Yorkshire Vikings an eight-wicket win over ladder-leaders Birmingham Bears in the final NatWest T20 Blast group game of the season.
And although the game was in essence a dead rubber, it was a look to the future for the White Rose as five players 22-or-under – Lees, Jack Leaning, Will Rhodes, Matthew Fisher and Ben Coad – all starred in the win.
Ambrose and Clarke steadied the ship and took the score to 50-2.Brian Halford, Club Journalist
The Vikings bowled the Bears out for 145, just the second time they have taken all 10 wickets in T20s this season. Lees (63 off 47) and Leaning (60 off 49) then put on 104 (76) for the second wicket to all but secure the win. Leaning and Andrew Hodd reeled in the total with three balls to spare.
The news pre-game was that Glenn Maxwell would watch tonight’s game from the stands, dropped for ‘disciplinary reasons’. But that didn’t deter the Vikings, as Liam Plunkett started on the perfect note, removing Lewis in the first over.
One of the night’s drawcards though – Brendon McCullum – was at the other end waiting to pounce on any loose bowling. But like everything else this season, Vikings leading wicket-taker Matthew Fisher took the situation in his stride and clean bowled the New Zealand skipper for 6, resigning the Bears to 11-2.
Ambrose and Clarke steadied the ship and took the score to 50-2, only for young seamer Ben Coad to strike twice in six balls to leave the Bears 57-4.
The returning Rich Pyrah then picked up the wicket of Woakes, before Will Rhodes drew the edge of Evans and Birmingham were struggling at 92-6. The pair combined again, with Rhodes removing Gordon just as he was looking dangerous. Fisher rounded out proceedings as the Vikings bowled our Birmingham for 145, just the second time they have taken all 10 wickets in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast.
Notable bowling performances were Will Rhodes (3-27 off 3), Rich Pyrah (2-21 off 4), Matthew Fisher (2-21 off 2.4) and Ben Coad (2-30 off 4). Rhodes and Alex Lees were given first go at the new ball in the chase, but Rhodes chipped one down the throat of mid-on early.
Lees and Leaning starting in a somewhat speculative manner, but kept the scoreboard ticking over and maintaining the run-rate at the required 7-an-over. Lees, captaining the side in the absence of Andrew Gale, played smart cricket shots, eliminating risk.
The two began to accelerate, still maintaining level heads, and slowly reeled in the total. When Lees departed, Leaning and Hodd still needed 26 to win, and did so with three balls to spare. It was another brilliant knock by Leaning, who finished as the Vikings’ highest run scorer in T20s this year.