Fidel Edwards made one of the most spectacular starts in Vitality Blast history to set Birmingham Bears motoring to a seven-wicket victory over Leicestershire in front of a bumper crowd at Edgbaston.
The West Indian paceman, making his debut on loan from Hampshire, took wickets with his first, third and sixth balls to leave the Foxes in immediate disarray at two for three after one over.
There was no way back from that for the visitors who mustered only 115 for nine, Edwards finishing with four for 22 while captain Jeetan Patel added two for 24.
To the delight of most in a noisy Edgbaston crowd of 11,442, the Bears then eased to 117 for three from 14.5 overs thanks to Sam Hain, who struck 31 (33 balls) and Aussie debutant Ashton Agar (41 not out, 28 balls).
Put in, Leicestershire were immediately blitzed by Edwards who bowled openers Neil Dexter and Mark Cosgrove for golden ducks and had Arrun Lilley caught at deep square leg. It is thought to be the first innings in Blast history in which the first four balls were faced by four different batsmen.
From such a terrible foundation, the Foxes’ recovery was only ever partial. Harry Dearden (27, 23 balls) and Colin Ackermann (26, 28) added 45 for the fourth wicket but were then bowled in the first overs from Jeetan Patel and Will Rhodes respectively. Agar chipped in with the wicket of Lewis Hill, caught at long on, as Leicestershire crawled past 100 in the 18th over.
Edwards returned to add his fourth wicket when Callum Parkinson skied to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess. Ben Mike, recently a popular loanee with the Bears, batted intelligently for 19 but was bowled slogging at Patel.
When the Bears set out in pursuit of their small target, Leicestershire desperately needed to take early wickets but snared only one, Michael Burgess who chipped Parkinson to mid-wicket. Ed Pollock thrashed 27 from 16 balls and, after he was caught off Dieter Klein’s first ball, Hain and Agar added 49 in seven overs before the former heaved Mike to deep square leg.
As Agar accelerated, the Bears coasted to victory in serene fashion in a match which will long be recalled for Edwards’ sensational start – a true ‘I was there’ occasion for the big crowd.