Birmingham Bears Women came into their penultimate round of games level pegging, having won and lost two matches. The Bears were third on the table hoping that two solid wins away at Kent would keep their Vitality T20 Cup wining hopes alive.
It was a muggy day in Beckenham with the sun covered by cloud and the threat of rain but the temperature did not stray below 19 degrees as the Women faced more tough opponents on their quest to be T20 champions. Facing Kent Women and Middlesex Women in Beckenham, it was never going to be easy for the Bears to come away with two wins. Although it was definitely made easier by a brilliant team performance and the Birmingham Bears traveled home with two more wins secured.
First up was the home side Kent who lost the toss and Captain Marie Kelly chose to bat first. It was unfortunate then that the skipper fell on the third ball of the innings, not the ideal start Birmingham would’ve wanted, being 7-1 at the end of the first over. But some outstanding batting from Gwenan Davies, including a stunning six that went miles over long on into someone’s back garden, lost on a balcony, and Ria Fackrell (16) added 46 runs to the total before the next wicket went.
Davies remained the constant forming run-scoring partnership after run-scoring partnership with the other Bears who graced the crease. 54 runs with Thea Brookes (26) pushed the team over the century mark (84 balls, 13.5 overs and 8 fours) whilst Jo Gardner helped bring the Bears close to 150 before Gardner fell (23) allowing Davies to make her 50 from 38 balls.
Running out their 20 overs, the Bears set Kent a formidable target of 152-4, including 21 extras from the fielding team, which opening batsmen Maxine Blythin and Grace Gibbins were hoping to chase down. But an early wicket for Kent saw Gibbs returning to the pavilion for 4, run out by Jess Couser in an unfortunate mix-up of events.
Up to the crease came England’s Fran Wilson who tried to stay and help make her mark but was bowled out by Bethan Ellis (4-1-28-2) for 25, five overs later. Maxine Blythin (37) was able to create a dent in the run chase however, adding a 40-run partnership with Alice Davidson-Richards before being removed by Georgia Davis (4-0-23-1).
Wickets fell quickly for Kent ultimately making 111-5 with twelve balls to go and 42 runs required, the run chase slowed by Gardner (3-0-17-2), who took her first wickets of the T20 season. When Davidson-Richards got out with six balls to win and then only eight scored off the last over, the Bears had completed their first win of the day comfortably, beating Kent by 22 runs, the first time the Bears have ever beaten Kent away.
Going into the Bears final game of the day, facing Middlesex, the Bears were confident but restrained as they started to take out the batters with multiple run-out shouts in the first few overs. In the end the wicket of Amara Carr (6) became Issy Wong’s (3-0-21-1) first take of the day, caught by Davis.
A flurry of wickets soon fell for Middlesex as batters struggled to make a stand against Jess Couser (3-0-15-2) and Bethan Ellis (3-0-9-2), getting to the halfway stage on 50-5.
It was a run scoring partnership between Beth Morgan (23) and Emma Alberry that helped get Middlesex to the place they were before Alberry (18) was beautifully bowled by Liz Russell (3-1-13-1), her leg stump coming out of the ground. The final over bowled by Gardner (1-0-6-0) allowed Middlesex to reach their century before they ran out of deliveries.
It was now the turn of the Bears to hunt down 101 to win their second match of the day. Triumphant batter Davies and the skipper Kelly went out to the crease and didn’t return as they smashed their set target in 13.4 overs, 85 balls, 60 minutes with 14 fours, with Davies collecting her second fifty of the day. The team had won their second game with ten wickets in hand.
The Bears reach their target easily chasing the required runs, adding 8 points to their standing on the T20 table thanks to their two wins.
With continued stellar performances, like the ones we have seen Birmingham Bears will be coming in from a high to their final round of matches. The Bears will be back at home next week at the Edgbaston Community Sports Ground on Portland Road as they face Sussex and Lancashire in a final bid to become the T20 Champions.