Bears play Durham Jets on Friday
Birmingham Bears captain Ian Bell aims to inflict more punishment on Durham Jets when they visit Edgbaston in the NatWestT20 Blast on Friday, writes Brian Halford.
The former Princethorpe College student has some productive history in the short format against the Jets. Last year up at the Riverside, he blasted 90 from 65 balls to steer his side to a seven-wicket win with five balls to spare.
That knock, which included 11 fours and two sixes, was the best for the Bears in the Blast - for a month until Brendon McCullum unfurled a blistering 158 against Derbyshire at Edgbaston.
It wasn’t the first time the Jets had encountered a Bell onslaught. In 2010, he blazed a 47-ball 85 at Edgbaston - and still found himself on the losing side! After Ian Blackwell’s 79 lifted the visitors to 214 for seven, Bell powered the Bears to 166 for two before four quick wickets from Steve Harmison punctured the momentum and left them 14 short at 200 for seven.
With a 90 and an 85 under his belt against the northerners, Bell would love to go all the way to three-figures on Friday - or see one of his team-mates do it, perhaps 20-year-old Sam Hain whose unbeaten 92 against Notts Outlaws in this season’s opening match relegated the captain’s 90 to third on the all-time Bears list.
“To get a T20 ton is one of my ambitions, absolutely,” said Bell. “I enjoyed the 90 up at the Riverside and it was nice to have the top T20 score for the Bears, at least for a little while before Brendon came in and showed why he is the world’s best T20 player.
“That’s still the only T20 hundred for us and it would be great for one of the home-grown guys, who have come through the system here at Edgbaston, to get a ton. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.”
Against the Jets, Birmingham will be seeking to bounce back from last Friday’s defeat to Worcestershire Rapids which left their T20 record this season at won one, lost one.
“One game doesn’t change a lot,” Bell said. “Of course it was disappointing to lose but there were some good points to the performance and the experience the young guys picked up will be invaluable.
“Worcestershire are a good side. It doesn’t matter what division you are in in four-day cricket, a lot of teams set themselves up really nicely in T20 cricket and it is hard to see the difference in a lot of teams.
“Worcestershire bat very deep and are one of the strongest sides in the group. Fair play to them for the way we played against us but we will come back hard against Durham.”