Jim Troughton believes Birmingham Bears will be “dangerous” opponents in the remaining group games after victory at Northampton yesterday kept them in the hunt for a Vitality Blast quarter-final spot.
The Bears’ inconsistency – won four, lost five – has left them needing a storming finish to their North Group campaign. They have to win all their last four games, starting against Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston on Thursday (7pm), qualify.
But they are still in the race – and yesterday’s 17-run win over Northants Steelbacks has set up a huge clash with the holders on Thursday. Last time the Bears and Outlaws met at Edgbaston it was in last year’s final but both have found the going tough this time round.
“It has been an odd tournament this year,” said Bears first-team coach Troughton. “Both last year’s finalists have lost games in the North Group and in the South Group, Hampshire, who have won a white-ball trophy this year, are sitting near the bottom.
“There have been a lot of good decks and big scores with bowlers under pressure. Maybe at the back end of the tournament we might find wickets a little bit more bowler-friendly, as they were in the three away games we have just played.
“It was a good win for us against the Steelbacks which kept us in the race and we are a dangerous team now because we have nothing to lose. We’ve got four games left, all against teams above us in the table but we don’t fear any of those teams.”
The Bears stayed alive in the competition thanks to a 17-run win over the Steelbacks which owed much to Chris Woakes’s first half-century in the Blast.
“We put Chris up the order to try to get the most out of it while we’ve got him and he paid us back with a really good knock,” said Troughton. “We had lost our way a little bit but 100 off the last eight overs got us to a defendable total.
“It was the first time in the competition this year that we have set a target and that is bizarre when you think that we are past the halfway stage. But we had wanted to bat first in the previous couple of games but lost the toss.
“We were not entirely happy with the performance. Seventeen runs is quite a big margin in T20 but we want to be getting 200 and closing games out earlier to make sure we put in a really dominant performance.”