Preview: Northants Steelbacks v Birmingham Bears, NatWest T20 Blast 2017

With confidence high from three successive wins, Birmingham Bears will aim to keep up the momentum with another victory when they visit local rivals Northants Steelbacks tomorrow (6.30pm).

The Bears have found the Steelbacks a tough nut to crack of late with the east-Midlanders coming out on top in the last four encounters.

"We’ve played some good cricket in the last week and it was another great win over Lancashire Lightning but now we move on to Northants which will be a tough game."

Grant Elliott

But six points from the last three completed games sends Birmingham into the derby game in excellent spirit.

And New Zealand all-rounder Grant Elliott, a key contributor to those wins with both bat and ball, says there is a real buzz around the Bears camp at the moment.

In his first Blast campaign at Edgbaston, the Black Caps star is “loving” the experience.

“It’s been brilliant,” he said. “There is a really nice atmosphere in the dressing-room with a lot of energy and new guys coming into the team which gives us a nice mix of youth and experience. We’ve got the likes of Aaron Thomason and Ed Pollock in there alongside guys like Ian Bell and Jeetan Patel and it’s a great blend. I’m loving it.

“We’ve played some good cricket in the last week and it was another great win over Lancashire Lightning but now we move on to Northants which will be a tough game and we know we have to be right on it again. They beat us at Edgbaston in a game we probably should have won, so we owe them one.

“It will be another good atmosphere at Northampton because this T20 comp has been brilliant and, the way it is structured, the games come thick and fast, so if you get on a roll, like we are, you can’t wait for the next game to come.

“We just have to rest up, not get complacent and go out there tomorrow and play the same aggressive cricket we have been playing.”

The Steelbacks will pose a stern test as they strive to extend their winning sequence against the Bears. Their five-wicket win at Edgbaston three weeks ago followed a double last season and their semi-final victory on Finals Day at Edgbaston in 2015.

But on the way to that Finals Day, the Bears themselves completed a double after William Porterfield’s half-century lifted them to a five-wicket win at Wantage Road and Olly Hannon-Dalby’s three wickets proved crucial to a one-run win at Edgbaston.

Overall, the equation could hardly be tighter. The teams have met each other more often than anyone else in T20 – and of their 28 clashes the Bears have won 15 and the Steelbacks 13.

Elliott and Co will be looking to make it 16-13 tomorrow after Sunday’s thrilling win over the Lightning introduced a new hero to Edgbaston – Adam Hose. Few players have made a bigger impact on debut that Hose did with his stunning 76 from 43 balls.

“Adam showed his power and really took the game away from the opposition,” Elliott said. “There was some great striking from him but he batted with a lot of composure too. It was a really high-class innings.”

Birmingham Bears Squad

  • Ian Bell (Captain)
  • Keith Barker
  • Colin de Grandhomme
  • Grant Elliott
  • Sam Hain
  • Oliver Hannon-Dalby
  • Adam Hose
  • Ateeq Javid
  • Alex Mellor (Wicket-Keeper)
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Ed Pollock
  • William Porterfield
  • Josh Poysden
  • Boyd Rankin
  • Aaron Thomason