Dougie Brown admitted his Birmingham Bears side didn’t play to their potential as their attempt to defend the t20 title ended with a semi-final defeat to Northants Steelbacks on their home turf at Edgbaston.
On a pitch which Brown admitted proved deceptively tricky for batting, his side found themselves 14-4 and despite a partnership of 93 between Rikki Clarke and Ateeq Javid leading them to 131 it wouldn’t prove enough.
Northants did slip to 95-5 in reply but Richard Levi’s unbeaten 63 saw them home, with the Bears putting in a sloppy performance in the field, something they could ill-afford defending such a low total.
“It looked like the ball would go through quite nicely, but it just hasn’t done so, it’s sat in,” Brown said afterwards. “Those first three wickets, Chopra got a good delivery, but Will Porterfield is getting his hands in front of him, as is Tim Ambrose.
“At four wickets down, all the momentum is with Northants, but I’m not blaming the pitch. We didn’t win the game because we didn’t deliver the kind of skills we delivered through the group stages.
“It required a lot of rebuilding which we did, I thought we did really well to get to 131. Rikki Clarke and Ateeq Javid played really well and Laurie Evans with that little cameo at the end to put us up to a respectable total. It’s not what we’d like to have been defending but it was a defendable total.
“We didn’t allow them to get away but there were a few slip-ups in the field, a few misfields, and some cheap runs that we couldn’t really afford, but I think the guys deserve a lot of credit for how they played through the group stages.”
Northants may have been the underdogs going into Finals Day, a tag head coach David Ripley is perfectly happy with, but go into the final looking to repeat their title win two years ago.
Ripley praised the impact of David Willey and Rory Kleinveldt in the early burst with the ball, as well as Levi’s calm head to see his side home.
“We talk about getting wickets early on,” he said. “We’ve got lads who swing the ball, guys who hit the wicket hard and then the opposition are in a bit of a stick-or-twist situation.
“We squeezed them hard in the middle and made it hard for them. There was a little bit of a slack finish but I thought Richard Levi played really well to see us home.
“We like the underdog tag, we were the longest odds, we’re the smallest county, but we’ve got as many match-winners as anyone when it comes to t20.
“We’re a step closer. Birmingham were the favourites so it’s good to know you’re through. The lads are going back to the hotel and we’ll reconvene and hopefully put on a good show tonight.”