Saturday 23 August 2014 

Birmingham Bears v Lancashire Lightning, NatWest T20 Blast Final


The Birmingham Bears won the Nat West t20 Blast at Edgbaston when defeating Lancashire by four runs. This was the first time the club had won this Trophy.

Varun Chopra won the toss and chose to bat in the Final, but there was an early setback when Ian Bell 4 fell in the third over, well caught by Karl Brown at deep mid-on after Bell had tried to lift Flintoff’s first delivery over the boundary for six.

Chopra added 45 runs for the second wicket before Croft bowled him for 30 and when William Porterfield followed for 31 the Bears reached the halfway point with their batting on 84-3.

Rikki Clarke played some good shots before Tom Smith bowled him for twenty seven and as the middle overs passed, Lancashire began to restrict the Bears’ batsmen to singles until Laurie Evans played a series of delightful shots including four sixes to help them reach a competitive 181-5 from their 20 overs.

In reply, Smith and Prince posted an opening partnership of 41 from 33 balls before Chris Woakes struck, while at the Pavilion end Boyd Rankin collected the wicket of the dangerous Ashwell Prince for thirty and then forced Khawaga 16, to pull him to Evans on the deep mid-wicket boundary.

Karl Brown was proving to be a problem for the Bears as he hit four sixes and three fours, whilst surviving a lofted drive to long-on, completing his half century before Chris Woakes bowled him for 55.

Earlier, Buttler edged Oliver Hannon-Dalby to Ambrose for eleven, while the bowler then bowled Croft for six and had Jordan Clark brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary by Ian Bell.

With overs and time running out, Lancashire lost Paul Horton deemed to have hit an awkward ball from Patel and despite some late hitting from Andrew Flintoff, 20 from eight balls with two sixes, Lancashire could not make the 14 runs needed for victory from Woakes’ final over of the innings, closing four runs short with just one wicket in hand.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby bowled well at the end of the inning closing with 3-31 from his four overs, while Rankin 2-21 and Woakes 2-24 were the most successful of the other bowlers.

To the great delight of all players, reserves and backroom staff, the Birmingham Bears celebrated their first victory in the t20 cup secured on their own ground in front of many of their own fans.

After the match Birmingham Bears all-rounder Chris Woakes said:"There was some good striking at the end there and it's just great to close it out.

"Your heart is going for the whole 20 overs. You know you're not that far away from the trophy but there's still a lot of work to do.

"I'm just delighted for all the boys who have put in work over the whole tournament, not just today."

Birmingham Bears captain Varun Chopra said: "The crowd were fantastic and the conditions were brilliant. We just about held our nerve as we have done throughout the competition. Nobody really gave us a chance but it's nice to prove a few people wrong.

Laurie Evans, who struck 53 in Birmingham's innings, "It means a lot, what a day. I thought after that catch went down and Browny hit the next ball for six my heart was going. It was nearly written in the stars for Freddie (Flintoff) there."

Birmingham Bears all-rounder Rikki Clarke: "We've worked so hard. We haven't been here for 10 years, so it is an amazing achievement for us. The crowd have been brilliant. It has been packed out and it has been a great atmosphere. There are always going to be nerves - the outfield got a bit greasy but we got over the line!"

Birmingham Bears director of cricket Dougie Brown: "We thought we had it in the bag there. Two go out the park and all of a sudden it's game on again. It's amazing to get over the line - it was a complete rollercoaster of emotions watching that."

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