Friday Night saw Derbyshire Falcons take on Birmingham Bears, with Bears coming to Derby off the back of a win the previous night against Leicestershire, however Derbyshire were looking to put things right as they were defeated to Notts Outlaws in a close match at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
It was a contest between two teams who both needed a win to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive, and Derby secured that win by 16 runs on what looked to be a slow pitch where neither team could gather pace in their batting innings.
Falcons captain Gary Wilson won the toss and elected to bat first, and his side came out off the blocks quickly. Opening batsman Billy Godleman and Callum Macleod scored 41 off the first four overs before Aaron Thomason made the breakthrough, taking the wicket of Godleman for 23.
On the very next ball the Falcons lost another wicket as Anuj Dal, without scoring, was run out by Woakes after failing to make his ground.
Derbyshire’s progress was slowed slightly by the experience of spinner Jeetan Patel and captain Grant Elliot. Between them, they restricted Derbyshire to scoring only 21 off 5 overs. Wayne Madsen and Macleod attempted to steady the ship for the hosts, but Madsen fell for 20 top edging Elliot, and Macleod fell for 39 when caught at long-on by Aaron Thomason.
Matt Critchley was removed by Olly Stone to leave the Falcons on 95/5 after 13.3 overs, and Elliot had Hughes caught as well – both were removed for just 3.
In the last 5 overs, the wickets of Wahab Riaz and Hardus Viljeon also fell, but Wilson managed to get Derbyshire to a defendable total of 143/9 after hitting two boundaries off the last over.
The Bears did bowl very well, especially Elliot who finished with figures of 3-16 off his 4 overs, and they did well to restrict the Falcons. However, their run chase got off to a difficult start as they were reduced to 4/2 in the second over, with Ed Pollock and Adam Hose both falling to top edges, to the bowling of Riaz and Ravi Rampaul.
The pitch now looking a difficult one and the Bears were making a slow start, finding it tough to put the ball away. They reached 49-4 at the halfway stage, as Sam Hain and Colin De Grandhomme both fell. Needing 95 off 10 overs, the chase was becoming more and more unlikely.
Ian Bell remained a constant during the innings while wickets fell at the other end, and he scored 65, reaching his 50 off 40 balls. It turned out to be a record-breaking night for him, as he overtook Jonathon Trott to become the highest ever run scorer for Birmingham Bears.
Unfortunately, he could not get his side over line.
The fall of Bell’s wicket left the visitors on 107/6, needing 37 off 20 balls. Some very skilful bowling from Riaz and Viljeon prevented Bears getting to their target, as the 18thover went for only one run and 2 wickets were picked up in the 19th.
Bears needed 32 from the final over, which was always a challenge, and Derbyshire won by 16 runs. The Bears ended on 127/9, which was down to a high class bowling performance by ther hosts.
“But I thought it was a complete bowling effort by all the bowlers, and a combined one that gave me the opportunity to put guys under pressure so I’m really happy for the team.”