Steelbacks, at long last, claim a white ball victory

Steven Crook thrashed an unbeaten 61 off just 42 balls in the Steelbacks' 219-6
Steven Crook thrashed an unbeaten 61 off just 42 balls in the Steelbacks' 219-6

One swallow doesn’t make a summer but, whisper it quietly, the Steelbacks have tasted success in a one-day game.

With no form to speak of, both in their two outings this season and most of the past two years come to think of it, Alex Wakely’s side produced a commendable performance at New Road.

They battled through a sticky patch with the bat to put up a total that was more than respectable, they did what they had to with the ball and they were sharp in the field and that all added up to a welcome 42-run triumph.

Back this up with a defeat of Warwickshire tomorrow afternoon and all of a sudden things might look a good deal rosier in the limited overs garden.

After calling correctly at the toss and choosing to have first use, the Steelbacks’ innings could be divided neatly into three parts, namely a solid opening, a turgid middle and an explosive finale.

A new opening partnership of Rob Newton and David Sales began respectably enough with the former taking the lead but after a few overs of seam it became apparent that the surface offered next to nothing in terms of pace and even less with regard to bounce.

And it was a combination of spin and Daryl Mitchell’s mixed bag medium pace that helped to apply the brakes to the scoring rate.

Sales was first to go when he drilled Moeen Ali to midwicket and Newton wasn’t far behind as he was bowled attempting to cut Brett D’Oliveira’s second ball.

With no pace to work with, the boundaries dried up and Kyle Coetzer’s stint ended as he swiped across the line in an effort to remove the shackles.

Matt Spriegel’s outside edge was beaten by a good delivery from Ali and when Wakely, who had looked as fluent as anyone, was skittled by Jack Shantry the innings was left in some sort of limbo.

At 158-5 with five overs left, a total of 200 would’ve been about par, and not too bad at that, but Steven Crook, who was badly missed by Gareth Andrew at short third man when on just 10, had other ideas.

The Australian’s simplistic style - stand still and swing hard - more or less took the conditions out of the equation and by the end of his undefeated 61 from just 42 balls, the home attack didn’t really know where to bowl.

In collaboration with the relatively sedate Andrew Hall, the pair thrashed 61 from the final 30 balls to transform an okay score into one that would pose more than few problems.

And those problems were brought immediately to the fore when Ali and Alexei Kervezee both fell to David Willey in the first few overs.

Mtchell and Thilan Samaraweera steadied the listing ship to a certain degree in their respectively unobtrusive styles, not to the point where the hosts were in front but certainly to where the balance of power wasn’t so lop-sided.

It took the return of Spriegel to change that as he removed both Mitchell, lbw sweeping, and Aneesh Kapil, caught and bowled and at the halfway point the equation read 123 from 120 deliveries.

The onus was squarely on the shoulders of the experienced Sri-Lankan and along with Andrew he steered the hosts into a position from where they could strike.

The four-over powerplay was always going to be crucial to the outcome and that is what came to pass

Andrew, shortly after lofting Crook into the stands, sliced to point to add another twist and in the next over Samaraweera and Michael Johnson fell in successive balls to Hall to lengthen the odds on a home win considerably.

D’Oliveira then gave Willey his third victim and that was four wickets for three runs in no time at all with the only remaining task being for the rest of the tail to be mopped up which was done with the minimum of fuss.