It was the start of the season for the Birmingham Bears Women as they faced Surrey Women and Cricket Wales Women respectively coming away with intense two wins.
An eight wicket win over Surrey left the Bears in good spirits going into their second match of the day against Cricket Wales. The Bears weren’t disappointed as their winning streak continued beating Wales by 17 runs.
The sunny start to the day (which eventually turned to rain) only helped the Birmingham Bears as captain Marie Kelly won the toss and chose to field first. Surrey sent out their best big hitters Kirstie White and Rhianna Southby to start the attack but after a slow start it wasn’t long before leg-spinner Anisha Patel took the first wicket.
Bowled for 22 (28) White was out leaving Surrey Women on 36-1 and Southby (13) soon followed. Another two wickets for Patel her third of the game leaving Surrey on 54-3 in 11 overs. Some superb bowling from Patel saw two wicket maidens in her four overs, 4-2-16-3 helped by Liz Russell (4-0-20-0) and Georgia Davis (4-0-18-0) to keep the runs down.
However, a 47-run partnership between a strong Aylish Cranstone and Surrey captain Hannah Jones (21) bolstered the total to 101-4 until Jones’ stump came out of the ground thanks to … Bethan Ellis (4-0-33-1). Two sixes for Cranstone (55*) and a couple of unfortunate overs for Birmingham later and Surrey ended their innings on 141-4.
Now it was the Bears turn to bat, Kelly and Gwenan Davies opening. Incredible batting from the pair saw them rack up the 50 for Birmingham in only 30 balls and 18 minutes. This partnership continued until Davies (23) sent the ball down flying to long off and into the hands of Cranstone, breaking the duo at 69.
Chasing up to 90-2, saw Ria Fackrell depart for six when Thea Brookes joined the captain at the crease and helped the ultimate run chase to win the game. Excellent batting from Brookes (30*) and Kelly (68*), a four to secure the winning runs, set the Bears up to seal victory by eight wickets finishing on 143-2 with 3.4 overs spare.
Moving on to their next match against Cricket Wales Women, Birmingham Bears were going in on a positive hoping to start their season off with a high. Losing the toss and being put into bat didn’t rattle the Bears although they did get off to a shaky start.
Both openers, Kelly and Davies fell at 10, leaving it up to Brookes and Fackrell to make a crucial 53-run partnership before the wickets slowly started to fall, with impressive bowling from Wales’ Alexandra Griffiths, 4-0-20-3, and Gabby Basketter, 4-0-18-2, limiting runs as well.
Starting at 63 and traipsing to 89-7 the Bears had a final push in Bethan Ellis (37*) and Issy Wong (4) to set a target of 133-9 for Wales Women to catch.
Both teams were off to a strong start, Wales hitting a six the third ball of the first over and the Bears were able to hunt two early wickets for Wong before the runs were added on. Three wickets in two overs for Wong (3-0-21-3) set the standard of bowling in the match but it didn’t stop Wales making runs.
Gabby Basketter 55 (40) held her place at the crease creating vital runs for Wales but it wasn’t until 90-5 that they started to panic. Falling at 90, 90, 97 and 109, Ellis (4-0-21-4) made her own mark on the middle order batsmen, demolishing their best efforts in three overs.
Despite the tense nature of the final overs, the wickets fell for Wales with the help of off-spinner Georgia Davis (4-0-29-2) and wicket keeper Gwenan Davies, who helped take five dismissals. It was the perfect start to the T20 season as Liz Russell (3.2-0-21-1) (a constant in both formats of the game) knocked the bails off the stumps of Danielle Gibson (13) and Birmingham had won by 17 runs with 1.4 overs to spare.
Next week, the Bears head away to Aldershot where they will meet Hampshire and Nottinghamshire in the next rounds of the Vitality T20 County Cup.