On a fine and warm evening in front of well over 10,000 spectators, Worcestershire Rapids efficiently saw off their local rivals by five wickets. Apart from gaining important points in the North group, the Rapids also claimed the newly created Norman Gifford Trophy, named after the legendary spinner who captained both Worcestershire and Warwickshire in a career of almost 30 years.
The Worcestershire chase of the Bears’ total of 155-7 was perfectly paced. 40 came off the first five overs, 75 off ten and then there was a steady acceleration against some indifferent Bears bowling.
Only Ateeq Javid conceded fewer than seven an over. Even the normally reliable Jeetan Patel went wicketless and conceded 35 runs in his four overs.
Brett D’Oliveira showed his developing batting skills with a mature innings of 62 off just 38 balls, hitting powerfully all round the wicket. He finished things off with a straight six off Oliver Hannon-Dalby to take the Rapids to their target with five balls to spare.
D’Oliveira had good support from Alexei Kervezee (40 off 29 balls) and Ross Whitely (23 off 17).
At the start of the night, the Rapids won the toss and put the Bears into bat. The visitors had already suffered a blow with the announcement that New Zealander Mitchell Santner had broken a finger and was flying back home.
Birmingham’s innings was an unimpressive stop-start affair. After the six power play overs, they were 58-1. But then Ed Barnard and leg-spinner Brett D’Oliveira exerted such a stranglehold that the next nine overs produced only 38 runs. The Bears were still only three wickets down at that point, largely thanks to Ian Bell’s half century.
In the last five overs, the Bears lost four more wickets but did manage another 59 runs.
Had the Rapids been able to take their chances, they might well have kept the Bears down to 120 or so. Ben Cox missed stumping both Ian Bell and Luke Ronchi, Ed Barnard dropped the same two players and Brett D’Oliveira missed a caught and bowled off Bell.
Even so, the Rapids will have been happy to restrict the Bears to 155-7. Only Bell, with 66 off 57 balls, got beyond the twenties. Barnard and D’Oliveira between them bowled eight overs for just 31 runs.
D’Oliveira’s all-round performance made him the clear man of the match. The Rapids, a team full of young, home-grown players, march confidently on, whereas the Bears have some sounds to lick and some thinking to do before their next game.