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D'Oliveira stars with bat and ball as Worcestershire take derby

Worcestershire 161 for 5 (D'Oliveira 62*, Kervezee 40) beat Birmingham 155 for 7 (Bell 66) by five wickets
Scorecard

Ian Bell, moved aside by England, has found much to sustain him, at 34, as a captain of the county that has been part of his life since childhood. Bell's influence at Edgbaston is considerable on and off the field but, in front of more than 13,000, he found little solace in the NatWest Blast as Worcestershire took the match that matters above all others - the West Midlands derby - by five wickets with five balls to spare.

Bell's 66, from 57 balls, for Birmingham was old school: an experienced assessment of the character of a slow Edgbaston pitch. He began sparkily, reined himself in in characteristic style when Worcestershire took pace off the ball in mid innings, looked on forlornly when the big-hitters failed to cause havoc around him, and then fell to a miscue in the final slog as Birmingham set a target that demanded a dominant bowling display to see them home.

"Twenty runs short," Bell admitted. "We didn't cash in during the middle period. We want to play with no fear and we probably didn't get that right today."

That dominant Birmingham bowling performance did not happen. Instead, Brett D'Oliveira played the most inventive innings of the night, fleet-footed and mentally sharp, to take Worcestershire home with an unbeaten 62 from 38 balls.

He escaped a run-out chance when he was stranded in mid-pitch but Jeetan Patel's shy was off target, and should have fallen to Recordo Gordon two balls from the end when Rob Adair dropped a sitter at backward point, but he deserved his luck.

So reprieved, with the scores tied, he settled the match with the serenest of straight sixes against Oliver Hannon-Dalby. The Normal Gifford trophy, named after the left-arm spinner who graced both clubs, had its first winner.

Add an excellent spell of legspin earlier in the evening and D'Oliveira, grandson of Basil, who was so disgracefully maligned in the 1960s by South Africa's apartheid system, followed up his excellent Championship form, upon being given a chance to open the batting, to pronounce himself one of the finds of the season. He looks as if he has the ability to do his grandad proud.

In the field, recognising that he was under pressure, Bell ran a bowlers' job interview - six of them used within eight overs as Worcestershire reached 60 for 3 - roughly eight an over from that point.

But D'Oliveira recognised few limitations, repeatedly backing away to the leg side as he used the crease to good effect. When he plonked the offspin of Jeetan Patel, so often Birmingham's matchwinner, over long-on for six, it was the first confident signal that it would be Worcestershire's night. Stands of 53 with Alex Kervezee and 57 with Ross Whiteley saw Worcestershire home. This Worcestershire side has endless dangerous hitters.

Birmingham's T20 side showed half-a-dozen changes from the Warwickshire side (for new readers: same club, very complicated, ask someone in marketing) that conceded the lead in Division One of the Championship with a home defeat against Durham.

One of those who survived was Sam Hain, and thereby lies a tale. Hain, one of the most promising batsmen in the country, was protected from T20 until this season. This year, he can't buy a run in the Championship and his only consolation came in a T20 debut when he made an unbeaten 92 in Birmingham's opening victory against Nottinghamshire. The poor four-day form came before the Blast began so at least T20 can't be blamed for it.

Hain's contribution this time was less eye-catching, but solid enough, 24 from 17 balls in an opening stand of 50 in 5.1 overs with Bell, at which point Jack Shantry's leg-side tactics brought success when Hain slogged and was bowled.

Birmingham were well set, but they were slowed in mid-innings by two excellent spells from D'Oliveira, Worcestershire's most economical bowler in T20 last season, and Ed Barnard - 2 for 32 in eight overs combined. Barnard had Will Porterfield excellently caught at deep midwicket by Alex Kervezee; D'Oliveira's jaunty leg spin trapped Laurie Evans with one that skidded on.

But Barnard was dropping catches, crucial ones, too, Bell put down on 13 at third man, an uppercut against the well-upholstered, bearded seam of Jack Leach; Luke Ronchi escaping before he had scored when an acceptable return catch slipped through his hands.

They were not split until 19 balls from the end when Leach had Ronchi, unusually subdued, caught at deep cover with a low full toss. Bell's cleverest moment was a deft sweep against Leach, from outside off stump, that flew over fine leg for six. He told himself it was enough, but afterwards he admitted he suspected it was not: D'Oliveira, a little lad with a bright future, saw to that.

Worcs 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st12DKH MitchellT Kohler-Cadmore
2nd10DKH MitchellJM Clarke
3rd23DKH MitchellAN Kervezee
4th53AN KervezeeBL D'Oliveira
5th57RA WhiteleyBL D'Oliveira
6th6OB CoxBL D'Oliveira