When the Birmingham Bears, chasing an unlikely 210 to win, needed 30 off the last two overs and captain Grant Elliott struck the first three balls of Wayne Parnell’s over for four, six and six, a sensational finish looked in the offing. But Parnell trapped Elliott lbw and Pat Brown conceded just four runs in the last over.
And so the Rapids proudly took their place at the top of the North Group of the Blast whilst the Bears swallowed the bitter pill of failing to qualify for the quarter finals.
On a fine but cool evening at Edgbaston and in front of a crowd of around 15,000, the Worcestershire Rapids put together a commanding performance led by Moeen Ali’s stunning hundred.
The Bears had only themselves to blame for the tall target set by the Rapids. Normally excellent fielders Sam Hain and Aaron Thomason dropped Moeen Ali when he was on 9 and 48 off Jeetan Patel and Grant Elliott respectively.
These were the only real blemishes in what was a dazzling display of controlled hitting by the Birmingham-born Rapids star. His twelve fours were a mix of vicious pulls and cover drives. The best of his seven sixes were the three consecutive maximums he hit off Josh Poysden – two over long off and one over long on. That over went for 19 but Poysden got his revenge when Moeen advanced down the pitch and was beaten in the air and stumped.
The persevering Poysden, playing in his last-ever game for the Bears prior to his move to Yorkshire, had already bowled Joe Clarke for 32 to end an opening stand of 80 in the ninth over. He also bowled an out-of-touch Callum Ferguson who had contributed only 13 to a stand of 74 with Moeen.
Ben Cox contributed a useful 27 before Jeetan Patel and Aaron Thomason each achieved direct hits from the boundary to run out both Cox and Ross Whiteley.
Much of the Bears’ bowling was pretty bland. Aaron Thomason had neither the pace nor the accuracy to contain the batsmen and conceded 53 runs off his three overs.
Ed Pollock and Ian Bell, in their contrasting styles, made a positive start to the run chase. Pollock pulled Ed Barnard for two sixes as well as driving straight and through the covers for two more boundaries in the same over.
Both departed in quick succession, Bell bowled by Wayne Parnell and Pollock edging an attempted upper-cut off Brown. Sam Hain mis-cued Daryl Mitchell to cover to leave the Bears on 97-3 at the halfway stage.
Adam Hose and Colin de Grandhomme as well as Elliott all did their valiant best but the Rapids bowlers held their collective nerve. Brown, top wicket-taker in the Blast this year, was particularly impressive in taking 2-23 off his four overs.
The Rapids can look forward to a home quarter final tie whereas the Warwickshire version of the Bears can concentrate on their fight for promotion in the Championship.