Bell and Hain get Bears off to a flying start at Worcester

Bell and Hain get Bears off to a flying start at Worcester

Birmingham Bears 153-2 (19 overs) beat Worcestershire Rapids 152-9 (20 overs) by eight wickets

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The Birmingham Bears completed what turned out to be a routine win over their opponents the Worcestershire Rapids. In the process, they claimed the Norman Gifford Trophy, which is contested between these local rivals.

But who was man-of-the-match?

Regular changes of scene are a feature of life both for cricketers and those who follow them. It was a great experience to be at Lord’s for the Royal London One Day Cup Final last Saturday. But if Lord’s is the home of cricket, it is grounds like Worcester that are the true home of county cricket.

That being so, it was good to exchange the luxury of the Lord’s Press Box for the more homely comforts of the New Road shed. OK, the toilet seat may have come unfixed; and refreshments were a few sandwiches rather than a slow-cooked lamb shank. But there is no doubt that this is real county cricket, a contest between bitter rivals in front of a sell-out crowd.

The Worcester ground is overlooked by a grand and stately edifice. I refer, of course, to the newly-built Premier Inn. And then there is the small matter of the even more stately Cathedral just across the river.

There are other special features.

Worcester may be the only ground in the country where there are parking spaces reserved for the tea ladies, and so it should be. Although teas are not in evidence at T20 games, they are rightly a feature on less frenetic occasions.

And now, back to the match itself.

In a nutshell, the Birmingham Bears eased their way to victory by eight wickets with an over to spare.

The Worcestershire Rapids’ total of 152-9 never looked adequate. The early Worcestershire batsmen seemed set on re-interpreting an old Morecambe and Wise joke – they played all the right shots but not to the right deliveries.

Hitting straight balls to leg is fine, but if you miss them the umpire’s finger comes into the game at regular intervals. From 67-5 off 12 overs, there was only partial recovery despite the efforts of Ross Whiteley and Ben Cox.

Bears supporters will be pleased to have seen Olly Stone in action at last. Four overs for 32 runs are nothing special, but he showed real pace and looks to have recovered from the horrendous knee injury that delayed his debut for a year.

There was some good batting practice for Ian Bell and Sam Hain, but little comfort for the Worcestershire bowlers as the Bears paced their innings to win with an over to spare.

As for the Man of the Match, the umpires chose Ian Bell.

But my vote goes to a certain Mr Donaldson. According to the public address system, he was at the match unaware that he had locked his wife out of the house.

A later announcement told us that a double-glazing company was on its way to repair the hole in the door, by which Mrs Donaldson had gained entry to the marital home.

Regardless of whether or not he is a Rapids supporter, we can assume that Mr Donaldson has had better evenings. Maybe my award to him of a personal man-of-the-match award will be at least a small consolation.

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