After three closely fought quarter final ties, all won by southern counties, it was almost inevitable that the last match of the quartet was going to be a more one-sided affair.
The Kent Spitfires put together a ruthlessly efficient performance with both bat and ball, whereas the Birmingham Bears were let down by some feeble upper order batting. Their top seven batters scored just 66 runs.
In the 11th over, chasing 163 to win, the Bears were 55-6. Although Jake Lintott salvaged something by scoring 41 off just 20 balls, it was by that stage all over bar the shouting – and the enthusiastic home crowd did plenty of that to cheer their side home·
The margin of just 21 runs hardly reflected the huge gap between the two teams.
Excellent though the Kent bowling and fielding was, with Matt Milnes, Qais Ahmad and Jack Leaning claiming 8 wickets for just 45 runs, the truth is that some of the Bears’ batting was lamentably poor. Skipper Will Rhodes and Michael Burgess both fell to full tosses and Sam Hain stepped right across his stumps to miss a straight ball.
To be fair to the Bears, they, too, had performed well in the field. At the half way stage, the Kent score looked to be no better than par, even allowing for a pitch where the ball tended to stick in the surface.
Tim Bresnan claimed four wickets for just 26 runs and the other Bears bowlers were tidy. Possibly crucially, however, the two leading wicket takers so far for the Bears, spinner Danny Briggs and Jake Lintott, failed to take a wicket. Lintott, it is true, was unlucky in that Burgess behind the stumps missed a routine stumping off Sam Billings.
Daniel Bell-Drummond and Billings each scored half centuries and struck four sixes between them. No-one else in the Kent batting line-up gave much support, suggesting that batting was not as easy as the two top scorers made it look. The Birmingham bowlers, Bresnan and Miles in particular, varied their pace well.
Following such a decent display in the field, when the Bears came to bat, it was a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show comes the dung cart.” Kent’s varied bowling attack was well equipped to exploit the Bears’ failings, and they were well supported by some good outfield catching.
And so Kent join Sussex, Hampshire and Somerset for Finals Day whereas the Bears must now focus their efforts on the County Championship. For them, the white ball season is over.