Sports Editor Oscar Frost reports on the Birmingham Bears’ victory over the Northants Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast
The Birmingham Bears were able to continue their 100 per cent record at the start of the Vitality Blast season. It was back to the Bears of old, as they blasted their way to a 21 run victory over the Northants Steelbacks. The Bears blasted their way to 202 runs from their 20 overs, which proved to be too many for the Steelbacks to chase.
Former UoB student Rob Yates stole the show, scoring 71 runs from 53 balls. This is his highest score in the Vitality Blast so far in his career. He was finally dismissed by a catch that was on par with his fantastic innings, as Josh Cobb lept and held onto a catch on the mid-wicket boundary.
He and Alex Davies kick-started the Birmingham innings, combining for 117 runs. They also were able to get to their 100 run partnership, before Davies was stumped to give the Steelbacks their first wicket of the affair.
Sam Hain was also able to score 48 not-out, continuing his great form across all formats this season. His strike rate of 178 was also impressive as he kept the wheels turning for the Bears once the openers had been dismissed.
Glenn Maxwell continued to have some problems getting his Vitality Blast season underway, being caught on the boundary on his first ball. However, with the strength of Chris Benjamin, Hain and Dan Mousley behind him, he is able to swing for the fences from the word ‘go.’
With the ball, it was a different story to the ‘spin to win’ approach against Lancashire. Craig Miles was the pick of the bunch, taking four wickets for 29 runs in his allotted overs. This included the significant wicket of Ricardo Vasconcelos, who top scored for the Steelbacks with 65 runs. Vasconcelos was having great success with playing his shots behind square for the majority of his inning, and it seemed as though he was always going to be dismissed by a catch at backward point.
Captain David Willey also provided some hope for the Steelbacks as he scored 33 runs. However, it was at a reasonably slow pace, meaning the run-rate required by the home side crept up to nearly two per ball.
The Bears batting unit showed that the pitch was ripe for runs to be scored on it, which puts the rather uninspiring bowling stats in context. Maxwell, Danny Briggs and Dan Mousley all took one wicket apiece. All, however, went for a fair few runs, especially Mousley who went for 47 runs in his four overs. Jake Lintott left the game wicketless, but managed to maintain an economy of 4.5.
Overall, this performance from the Bears against the Steelbacks harked back to the high run scoring of last season. Putting pressure on the home side with a very solid total, they were able to defend it with relative safety.
This win means that the Bears cement themselves at the top of the Vitality Blast north division, with Worcestershire the only side left without a loss on their record. They face the Notts Outlaws next, who have won one and lost one so far this season.
Check out these latest sports articles here:
Buy discounted student tickets for Birmingham Bears vs Northants Steelbacks here with code UOB23