Bears succumb as Steelbacks double up

Matt Spriegel made 35 in the middle order for the hosts
Matt Spriegel made 35 in the middle order for the hosts

Having beaten first-class opposition for the first time since August 2011 in 40-over cricket at Worcester yesterday, the Steelbacks gave weight to the adage about buses turning up in batches as they claimed a second win in as many days.

Warwickshire were the last side to be beaten in a limited overs contest at the County Ground a fraction more than two years ago - I remember this because the report filed was deemed by the County hierarchy of the time to be too negative as it suggested the visitors threw away victory, which they did, rather than being heroically beaten - and they were the victims again to the tune of 36 runs with one man stealing the show.

Steven Crook’s arrival in the off season was based primarily on his ability in the shorter formats and he showed, just as he did at New Road, what he can offer in coloured clothes.

Another muscular innings was followed up by List A career best figures of 5-40 and if a man of the match was selected for these group games - they’re not in case you were wondering - he would be a shoo-in.

At Wantage Road, a decent Bank Holiday crowd got to watch the host bat first after Jim Troughton had called incorrectly and it was an innings that promised much without ever actually delivering.

Crook’s 40 was the highest contribution - he’s found a nice little niche at number six - with the trio of Alex Wakely, Matt Spriegel and Kyle Coetzer all chipping in with 35 apiece and a total that could’ve been more substantial failed to materialise.

That was mainly due to the powerplay overs which, as is often the case, put the brakes on rather than pressing the accelerator.

Crook’s arrival had seen some much needed impetus added and something approaching 250 looked on the cards but the four-over spell mustered 15-2 and the momentum was gone.

Earlier in the piece, an obviously premeditated and sustained short-pitched plan by the impressive Boyd Rankin, whose eight overs only cost 18, had stifled the hosts during the middle section of the innings.

His only reward was the wicket of David Sales but the Bears’ coaching staff had done their homework and the Irishman’s method proved to be particularly effective.

The 229-9 posted had the feel of being slightly under par but four overs in it had taken on the look of a considerably higher number with the scoreboard showing 12-3.

Varun Chopra walked in front of Crook’s opening delivery, Troughton slashed his fifth to point and Tim Ambrose, and only he knows what he was doing, embarked on a suicidal run after mid-on had misfielded only to see Wakely at mid-off throw the stumps down at the bowlers end.

Everything settled down over the next hour or so as Will Porterfield and Rikki Clarke rebuilt the chase in a tidy fashion and at the midway point the target had been reduced to a little over a run a ball.

Clarke, put down at midwicket on 29, eased past his half-century and the tide was slowly beginning to turn when Porterfield skewed Trent Copeland to backward point.

Darren Maddy used up valuable time before gloving a reverse sweep behind and Ateeq Javid struggled to rotate the strike which placed all the pressure on Clarke.

And when he sucumbed for 65, well stumped by David Murphy off Andrew Hall, the game was as good as up with the tail being left for Crook to run through.