<
>
Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Porterfield, Ambrose see Bears to victory

Birmingham 136 for 4 (Ambrose 46, Porterfield 42) beat Yorkshire 132 for 7 (Leaning 45, Gordon 3-30) by six wickets
Scorecard

Birmingham moved back to the top of the North Group of the NatWest Blast - level on points with Worcestershire - after a six wicket victory over Yorkshire with eight balls to spare. It was their 11th victory in 13 completed T20 matches. For a side about to be boosted by the arrival of Brendon McCullum, it is quite a foundation.

Yorkshire never recovered from losing four wickets in the Powerplay overs. While Jack Leaning, the latest off the Yorkshire production line of talented young players, took them to something approaching a competitive total, it never looked likely to be enough. It left them seventh them in the table - they have lost four of their seven games in the competition - and facing an uphill fight to qualify for the quarter-finals.

"We never really got going," their captain Andrew Gale said afterwards. "I'm very disappointed with our batting. "I thought 160 to 165 was par on that pitch - it looked a belter at the toss - and in the end we scraped our way to 130. We never found the pace of the pitch and, when the pace was taken off the ball, we found it hard to score.

"It's so frustrating. It feels like we're banging our heads against a brick wall. I'd rather we were bowled out for 80 trying to score 160 than make 130."

There are some mitigating factors. No club has been hit harder by England call-ups - Gary Ballance was rested form this match on the orders of the ECB - and this pitch, the same one used for Friday's match against Leicestershire, was not the easiest. But their overseas players are struggling for form. Glenn Maxwell has passed 20 only once in six T20 matches and has not been selected for the Yorkshire side in this week's Championship match against Nottinghamshire, while Aaron Finch, with 41 in three innings, is struggling for fluency and will also miss that game and represent the club's second XI against Worcestershire seconds instead. "He needs red ball cricket," Gale explained.

That means that Maxwell will miss out even on second XI selection. Regulations state that only one overseas player can take part and, with Finch already included, there is simply no room for him.

The most pleasing aspect of this result from a Birmingham perspective was the contribution of their younger players. With Jonathan Trott consigned to a role in the commentary box, Chris Woakes still a little way off a return from injury - he will not, as reported elsewhere, play second XI cricket this week - and Ian Bell falling in the first over of their reply, they were instead grateful for the disciplined bowling of Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Recordo Gordon and Josh Poysden.

Gordon was especially impressive. Having impressed with his raw pace last year, he was obliged to remodel his action after pretty well founded suggestions that he threw his quicker ball. But months spent working with the club's bowling coach, Alan Richardson, has reaped their rewards and here he looked an intelligent bowler with good variations, a calm head and, crucially, an unimpeachable action.

Having had Alex Lees caught behind with one angled across him, he dismissed Maxwell - top-edging a pull off a cutter - first ball and came back at the death to have Leaning caught at mid-on. With his cutters, his hint of inswing and an ability to bowl a much sharper ball, he looked a handy cricketer.

Poysden, a legspinner who relies more on change of pace and control than turn, also impressed in three frugal overs and claimed the memorable wicket of Finch, whose torturous innings was ended when he chopped one on to his stumps.

From 36 for 4 at the end of the Powerplay, though, Yorkshire could be modestly relived by their eventual total. Leaning and Finch, who took 14 off a Keith Barker over that contained a no-ball but was generally cramped for room by the bowlers, added 43 for the fifth wicket - albeit at under a run-a-ball - before Leaning and Tim Bresnan added 39 in five overs.

When Maxwell, who might be disappointed he cannot get a game for Yorkshire as a spinner, claimed both openers in his first nine balls, it seemed Birmingham might struggle. But William Porterfield looked in good form, Tim Ambrose calm and Laurie Evans explosive. Any tension there might have been was released when the 18th over of the innings, bowled by Bresnan, cost 15 and Birmingham cruised home with relative ease.

With Bell also available to play in Friday's game against Lancashire, their coach, Dougie Brown faces a tough decision over who to select and where. Ian Westwood and Sam Hain will also return from injury for the second XI this week.

There were just under 9,000 at Edgbaston for the game. The club is currently standing third - behind the two London teams - in ticket sales for this year's event. It will undoubtedly be a record years in terms of T20 attendances, but you wonder if everyone at the ECB wants this competition to work. After all, if it did, it might prove far harder to justify the changes they are keen to make.

Warwickshire 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st6IR BellV Chopra
2nd9WTS PorterfieldV Chopra
3rd51TR AmbroseWTS Porterfield
4th66TR AmbroseLJ Evans
5th4R ClarkeLJ Evans