Bears stage stunning comeback to silence Notts and maintain 100% record

Thank goodness for the Brummie weather. After a wet and largely miserable May, June was kicked off with blue skies and the promise of cricket aplenty. The Blast Off isn't so aptly named; that would indicate the beginning of the competition, which in fact started on Thursday. For some sides, the Blast Off arrived after they'd played two matches.

The Champions League final might've been taking place at Wembley, but that didn't deter thousands of avid cricket supporters from around the Midlands making the journey from its various corners to the home of cricket. Heaps of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire fans joined their Bears counterparts in a healthily populated Edgbaston, which began with the former two sides in action.

Derbyshire took the spoils in a highly entertaining encounter where 176 played 178, 12 wickets were taken and all but five balls of the 40 overs in the match were bowled. That undercard whetted the appetite for what, on paper, looked to be the stronger contest between the two Midlands heavyweights.

The Bears, in their fancy electric blue tops, won the toss and Alex Davies elected to bat first, despite the side who chased in the first match coming out on top. It did look a good wicket to be batting on. Instantly, it had appeared the correct call, for Davies raced to 12 from the opening four balls - including one enormous six - before perishing at the fifth.

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Rob Yates very quickly went about his business. By this stage we're used to the way he applies himself, after his glut of rapid half centuries towards the end of the Bears' particularly successful T20 Blast group stage last year, and this was an innings reminiscent of those - well made, with some powerful range hitting but equally a number of lovely strokes.

At the other end, though, partners fell all too quickly. Chris Benjamin didn't last long, and then Sam Hain - who has endured a disrupted beginning to his campaign - helped the ball straight back to Matt Montgomery. Dan Mousley didn't hang around for long, and neither really did Jacob Bethell - although the latter probably played the shot of the innings, when he dismissively pulled Olly Stone through mid-wicket.

George Garton, in at seven, decided that he would give his batting career as a Bear lift off with a switch hit into the family stand, but that was about the height of his fun. Yates himself then surrendered his wicket when on 68, caught brilliantly by the in-rushing Jack Haynes at deep backward square leg. It was left to the tail, led by Danny Briggs, to guide the Bears to something respectable which they could hope to defend.

The Bears, though, couldn't see out their overs. That's a cardinal sin in itself in T20 cricket. There were two run-outs, a questionable decision which led to an LBW dismissal and three balls which weren't faced at the death.

A target of 150 in modern day short form cricket ought to be, in most circumstances and conditions, as many as 50 too few. Certainly based on the first match, where 180 mightn't have been enough, you'd have to say that the Bears would need a monumental collective effort from their bowling unit. You'd be forgiven for thinking then that the chase was over as a contest as soon as the powerplay was completed - Notts were 54/0 with two balls left.

Then Joe Clarke got out, sending Dan Mousley to Yates. That sparked something in the Bears camp. They were watertight in the field, giving the Outlaws minimum room for manoeuvre. Still, with Alex Hales at the crease, damage could still be done. Briggs, the competition's leading wicket taker in its history, caught and bowled Haynes and then swiftly clean bowled Will Young. Suddenly, the Bears were right in the game.

The Outlaws were beginning to make hard work of it, and when Hales lofted Jake Lintott to Mousley at long off, the Bears' tails really were up. Montgomery and Tom Moores sought to bring about stability to the chase, but the latter was removed when Jacob Bethell took an outstanding catch at deep backward point, in front of the well oiled Hollies stand. The pyrotechnics were in full swing.

Dots were key and the Bears continued to apply pressure, proactive in the field and disciplined enough with their line and length with the ball. Captain Davies rather unconventionally took the catch behind the stumps of Lyndon James as Lintott struck again, although his spell ended when Montgomery, who remained dangerous, took inspiration from Garton and switch hit him into the Raglan.

You couldn't sit too comfortably until Montgomery was gone. He ran Hassan Ali to the boundary, who had from the first 11 balls of his night had conceded 19 runs, but with the final ball over his second over tempted the all-rounder into the safe gloves of Davies. The experience of Gleeson, which the Bears could call on at the death, and the boundary riding of Bethell, told, before Hassan cleaned up fellow quick and former Bear Olly Stone and Mousley trapped Harrison and removed Lister in the final over, to leave himself on a hat-trick.

The Bears are well and truly up and running in the Blast.

Bears star men

Rob Yates ⭐⭐⭐

Dan Mousley ⭐⭐

Danny Briggs