Chris Woakes will return from England duty for Birmingham Bears against Derbyshire Falcons tomorrow – on the ground where he once delivered the remarkable NatWest T20 Blast figures of 4-1-9-1.
That spell, in the Bears’ three-wicket at Derby in 2010, was at the time the most economical full T20 spell for the club and remains the second thriftiest, behind Rikki Clarke’s 4-0-8-1 against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston in 2014.
To concede fewer than ten runs with the flak flying in T20 is a rare and usually match-winning effort.
And, according to Birmingham Bears bowling coach Alan Richardson, to do so takes a lot of skill and a lot of composure – and a bit of luck.
“You need to be lucky,” he said. “Anything can happen in T20 so, with bat or ball, you always need that bit of luck on your side. But you don’t get an analysis like that in that format unless you bowl superbly well.
“For Woakesy and Rikki to bag that sort of analysis is a brilliant feat. Effectively it’s down to bowling four overs of immaculate line and length.
“In many ways, in T20 you just look to bowl the same way as in any format. Good line, good length and give the batsman nothing. The big difference is the speed it all happens at.
“Everything seems to happen in a blur with the batsmen changing and fielders changing round every ball. So the good bowlers give themselves breathing space. They will just take a second to settle and get focused, then run into bowl.
“Then comes that skill of putting it on the line and length of course.”
Birmingham would certainly settle for a sub-ten analysis from Woakes, Clarke or one of their team-mates tonight as they face a Derbyshire side with an identical T20 record to their own this season – won two, lost one, one no-result.
“A spell like that really cranks up the pressure on the opponents,” said Richardson. “It’s similarly to when we had Shaun Pollock playing for us in 45-over cricket a few years ago. He would open up with five overs for practically nothing and the batting side would effectively be chasing their target off five overs fewer.”
Birmingham Bears Squad:
- Ian Bell (Captain)
- Mark Adair
- Rikki Clarke
- Laurie Evans
- Recordo Gordon
- Sam Hain
- Oliver Hannon-Dalby
- Ateeq Javid
- Jeetan Patel
- Josh Poysden
- Luke Ronchi (Wicket-Keeper)
- Aaron Thomason
- Chris Woakes