Steelbacks collapse as Evans fires for the Bears

Warwickshire v Northants 20/20 at Edgbaston.'Rob Newton.
Warwickshire v Northants 20/20 at Edgbaston.'Rob Newton.

It’s now nine games without a win in the limited overs arena for the Steelbacks after their latest reverse at Edgbaston in the Friends Life t20.

Admittedly, four of those have been ruined by the elements but the men in maroon just can’t get over the finishing line at the moment.

Three-quarters of the way through the contest, with the Warwickshire Bears needing 89, there looked to be only one winner but Laurie Evans, in collaboration with Chris Woakes, steered the hosts home with the perfect example of how to conduct a tight run chase.

The former Surrey man moved quickly through the gears, finding the boundary at the right time and what should have been difficult became relatively comfortable by the finish.

After Alex Wakely, captaining again in place of the injured Andrew Hall, had called correctly, the Steelbacks made a solid enough start.

Kyle Coetzer, after being badly spilt at extra cover, soon holed out to long-on off Chris Woakes but Rob Newton looked in decent touch and it was a surprise when, giving himself room to the off-spin of Jetan Patel, he had his off stump knocked back.

But 54-2 in the eighth over represented a good platform from which a competitive total could be constructed.

Yet on a slow surface and against an attack that varied their pace often and effectively, scoring wasn’t as easy as it was against a hard and shiny new ball, even for someone like Cameron White who boasts more power than your average batsman.

Niall O’Brien, who added 62 in 56 balls with White through the middle of the innings, found it difficult to get going to the extent that his 38 used up 43 balls and contained just three boundaries.

His departure and the subsequent dismissal of Wakely left the onus on White to provide the late acceleration and he did exactly that to the tune of a half century from 34 balls.

With an uncomplicated method that relies on an old-fashioned method of standing up and hitting the ball hard and high, White, who really needs to be going in first wicket down at the lowest, showed exactly what his new employers have been missing over the past couple of seasons.

The overall outcome was a total of 149-4 which while not world-beating, was more than defendable and that job was made a fraction easier in the first over when Jack Brooks cleaned up Rikki Clarke.

Will Porterfield didn’t last too long before he swung across the line at Chaminda Vaas and Varun Chopra’s attempted sweep at David Willey only resulted in his leg stump being removed.

Midway through the chase the equation stood at 89 runs from 60 deliveries with Darren Maddy and Evans getting into their stride but when the former picked out deep midwicket rather than the stand he was aiming for, the odds on a home win lengthened.

But the beauty of the shortest format is that fortunes can turn quickly and Chris Woakes’ arrival gave the hosts’ chase some much-needed impetus, so much so that it spurred on Evans to a career best performance of an undefeated 68 from just 41 balls.

The Steelbacks’ attack had no answers in the final stages as the boundaries flowed from seam and spin alike and while this manner of defeat can happen and as well as Evans played, they will still wonder how they managed to finish up on the losing side.