Mark Robinson is hoping for more magic from his match-winners when the Bears face Durham at the Riverside in the Vitality Blast tonight (6.30pm).
The Bears travel north placed second in the North Group table after a thrilling one-run win over Notts Outlaws on Sunday.
That victory bounced them back from successive defeats and was earned, most of all, by the remarkable bowling of Jake Lintott. The spinner came on with Outlaws batters Alex Hales and Ben Duckett having just thrashed 50 in three overs and immediately dismissed them both in an over which cost two runs.
Lintott finished with 2-0-6-2, truly remarkable figures in an eight-over innings, and the return of England paceman Olly Stone added another dimension to a happy day for the Bears.
“It was a great win.” said first team coach Mark Robinson. “Notts were clear favourites at one stage, needing only eight an over, but we have match-winners in our team and Jake is one of them. He spun out a couple of batters and could have had another one as well when Sam Hain made a great effort and couldn’t quite cling on.
“It was high-quality bowling and we’ve got Stoney back too and that’s great. It was fantastic that he got a wicket with his first ball back and everyone is delighted to have him in the side again.
“Four wins from six is a good start but we are not looking too far ahead. We will just go to Durham on Wednesday and try to win there, then on to the next match at home to Yorkshire on Friday. There are a lot of good teams in the group with a lot of good players.
“Every team has its own match-winners in their batting like we have Paul Stirling. If your match-winner comes off, then you can win a game comfortably. If Alex Hales had batted for two more overs on Sunday that’s the game done and dusted in six overs.
“We feel we are a bit better than we were last year. We have a little bit more experience from what happened last year and with Stoney coming back that will bring us that little bit of extra quality as well.”
One intriguing subplot in Sunday’s game was that in both innings a batsman ‘retired out’ (Carlos Brathwaite for the Bears and Samit Patel for the Outlaws). It was the first time this has happened in county cricket and it remains to be seen whether the strategy, which is within the rules, becomes commonly used in the Blast.
“Carlos just felt there were better players to take on the leg spinner and the way Al Davies batted proved what a great decision it was,” said Robinson. “The last over went for 18 because Carlos retired himself.
“Then Samit retired himself for the last ball in case they had to run a two for a tie. Ravi Ashwin did it in the IPL which is probably where the idea has come from. It’s the game isn’t? It’s good innovation and to be applauded.”