Another day, another defeat

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Steelbacks’ performance was significantly better, with the bat anyway – it certainly couldn’t have been any worse than Tuesday’s humiliation – and there was more worthy of praise but, and this is all that really matters, the result was the same.

And that result was an emphatic seven-wicket victory for the Warwickshire Bears with a massive 23 balls to spare, the two points they gained keeping them on course for a quarter-final place.

On the other side of the coin, it was the home side’s sixth reverse in a row and they have now mustered just two wins in their last 24 Friends Life t20 games.

But back to tonight and free of any pressure, the Steelbacks produced a batting effort that resembled what is generally required in this format.

It had its flaws but given that they have been way off the pace in most of their other outings, perhaps they can be cut a bit of slack.

There was a bright opening, a steady flow of boundaries throughout and even half a dozen sixes for good measure and although the final few overs didn’t produce as many as looked likely at one stage, the 153-7 amassed at least looked competitive.

Following Alex Wakely’s early demise, Kyle Coetzer and David Willey, opening for the first time in the competition, took the score to the half century before the former chipped Paul Bewst to short fine-leg.

When Willey was run out in the same over it was hard not to picture a familiar scenario unfolding, namely that of the innings doing exactly that.

But, and about time too, Rob Newton and Cameron White attacked rather than retreat into their shells and the result was the kind of Twenty20 batting that is the norm rather than the exception.

Both peppered and cleared the fence – White taking three off one Jetan Patel over that went for 28 – and for a brief moment all the previous woes were pushed to one side.

It was back to reality soon enough, however, as the pair fell in successive balls and it was left to the lower order to scramble together what scraps they could.

Using the form guide as a marker, you wouldn’t have had the hosts down as favourites at the halfway stage but their odds would’ve shortened when the in-form Varun Chopra dragged on his first ball from Chaminda Vaas.

Rikki Clarke and Jim Troughton stabilised things to the extent that within a few overs they were ahead of the rate, doing pretty much as they pleased, and 10 overs into the chase they had reduced the target to a very manageable 64 from 60 deliveries with nine wickets in hand.

Vaas returned to end Clarke’s enterprising stint but Troughton, who had looked miserably out of touch in the CB40 game at the same venue in May, powered on to an excellent 35-ball half century and when Laurie Evans joined in the fun with 33 from 12 balls – no, that is right – the end was very quick in arriving.

And how ironic that, every now and then, the A-team theme was pumped out over the PA system because Hannibal Smith et al would have their work cut out to drag the Steelbacks out of the mess they are in.