Flailing Birmingham host flying Yorkshire as the battle to secure a quarter-final spot in the North Group intensifies. The Bears, initial pacesetters with four wins from their opening five games, have since lost three in a row to fall down the table, but the crushing nature of some of those early wins means they maintain a positive net run rate.
Yorkshire, meanwhile, sit at the summit of the table with six wins from nine, and are a tough proposition for a Bears side looking to bounce back.
The Vikings were victors in this encounter’s reverse fixture at Headingley in what was both sides’ opening game of the 2021 tournament. Having restricted Birmingham to 144 for 8, the Vikings breezed home with nine balls and six wickets to spare.
Since then, they have lost just twice, and completed a particularly comprehensive win over Northamptonshire in their last outing on Saturday evening, striking a brutal 224 for 3 before bowling the Steelbacks out for 142 to reclaim top spot from the Notts Outlaws.
Birmingham bounced back from defeat in their opening game by going on that impressive four-match winning run, with the highlight being an 18-run defeat of champions Notts at Trent Bridge after posting 229 for 5 when batting first. However, since then, their fortress has fallen, and so has their standing in the table.
This is their third home game in a row, and after losing the previous two to Derbyshire and Durham, respectively, bouncing back is imperative if they are to return to the top four.
Who’s in form?
Elevated to No.3, Yorkshire allrounder Jordan Thompson hammered 74 from just 35 balls in that demolition of Northants on Saturday, with his 49-minute onslaught including seven maximums. He now totals 162 runs in the 2021 Blast at an average of 54.00, but even that is pushed into the shade by the numbers of teammate Harry Brook. He made 45 not out against Northants, taking him past 300 runs for the season, which have come at a stunning average of 86.00.
Thompson is having quite the season with the ball too, as his 11 wickets, one more of which came against Northants, mark him out as the Vikings’ leading wicket-taker. Matt Fisher, finally enjoying a long run in the side after an injury-stricken few years, snared two wickets on Saturday and totals nine for the season. Watch out too for England spinner Dom Bess, who finished with three for 17 from four overs against Northants and is level with Fisher on nine scalps.
There has been little to shout about for Birmingham over the past few games, but overseas acquisition Carlos Brathwaite has continued to prove his worth, leading the Bears’ wicket-taking charts with 15 scalps. He picked three more up against Durham on Saturday, one of which was his old nemesis Ben Stokes. Fellow seamer Tim Bresnan, formerly of Yorkshire, also struck twice to take his total to nine, but the Bears are sorely missing the control of the isolating Jake Lintott, who may return following this game and has eight wickets so far.
Middle-order batter Sam Hain has been a cut above with the bat, notching a total of 288 runs in his eight innings so far, although he has hit the buffers in the past couple of games. Luckily for the Bears, skipper Will Rhodes made 45 on Saturday and passed 200 for the season himself, but also hitting a touch of form is youngster Matt Lamb. Since coming into the T20 side for the first time this season against Derbyshire, he has posted scores of 22 and 39, with the latter being second only to Rhodes for the innings’ top score.
What’s the team news?
Birmingham Bears: Jake Lintott returns after 10 days in isolation. Olly Hannon-Dalby and Ethan Brookes are back in but Dan Mousley, Henry Brookes and Olly Stone are out injured. Chris Woakes remains with England
Birmingham Bears squad: Will Rhodes (C), Carlos Brathwaite, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Ethan Brookes, Michael Burgess (WK), Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Adam Hose, Matt Lamb, Jake Lintott, Craig Miles, Ed Pollock.
Yorkshire Vikings: The visitors are without Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Will Fraine due to injury. Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root and David Willey miss out as they remain with England.
Yorkshire Viking squad: Gary Ballance, Dominic Bess, Harry Brook, Lockie Ferguson, Matthew Fisher, George Hill, Dominic Leech, Adam Lyth (c), Josh Poysden, Mark Stoneman, Jonny Tattersall (wk), Jordan Thompson, Matthew Waite
Parking: There will be no parking available to purchase in advance or on the day for this fixture.
Parking will be available on-site for annual car park pass holders only. A small number of disabled parking spaces will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Public car parking may also be available on a pay and display basis in Cannon Hill Park and/or the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Centre. These car parks are not operated by Edgbaston.
By bus: There are regular local buses to the ground from southwest Birmingham and the city centre. National Express buses 45 and 47 have services between the city centre and Pershore Road which is a two-minute walk to the ground.
By train: Birmingham New Street Station is the main rail hub for the city with connections from all over the country.
How do I follow the match?
Birmingham will offer live coverage of the match via their website: Click here
All T20 Blast matches are also available via the ECB's central hub: Click here
The matches can also be viewed on mobile via the ECB app.
Radio: All Vitality Blast fixtures will be available on BBC Local Radio stations with extensive coverage also on 5 Live Sports Extra.
Digital: The Cricketer will carry live scorecards and updates from every Vitality Blast match in 2021, as well as the latest breaking news from around the counties and exclusive features. Visit our County Hub for more.
Time for Birmingham Bears to get their season back on track. Home win.
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