Captaincy change pays of as Derbyshire Falcons beat Birmingham Bears
A change of captaincy worked wonders for Derbyshire Falcons as they beat Birmingham Bears by five wickets in the Vitality Blast Edgbaston.
In their first match since Matt Critchley replaced Billy Godleman as skipper, the Falcons excelled in the field to restricted the Bears to 167 for nine on a good batting pitch with a short boundary on one side.
Ed Pollock blazed 46 (21 balls) and Michael Burgess made 41 (34) but the Falcons bowled with aggression and purpose, led by George Scrimshaw (three for 23), Fynn Hudson-Prentice (two for 19) and Conor McKerr (two for 28).
Their reply then ignited immediately with 19 from the first over and they never looked back, reaching 170 for five with five balls to spare. Leus du Plooy hit 57 (34 balls) and Tom Wood an unbeaten 63 (48) to secure a victory that preserves their slender hopes of qualification from the North Group.
Wood said: "It was a great feeling to be there at the end and see the boys home after sitting on the sidelines and watching the boys go through a tough time. It was really pleasing.
"Everyone who plays cricket has always got something to prove, especially when you've not been in the team, because you want to show why you should be in the team.
"There is always pressure because you are trying to win every game, but I just try to embrace the pressure because pressure is a privilege, really, and we are in a privileged position to be able to do what we do for a living."
For the depleted Bears, with Dan Mousley (broken finger) the latest addition to the absentee list, the result meant back-to-back defeats from which they will seek to bounce back at home to Durham on Saturday.
Critchley's first act as Falcons skipper was to win the toss and choose to field and he must have thought captaincy was a piece of cake as the Bears lurched to 23 for three after 19 balls. McKerr removed Adam Hose and Will Rhodes in his first over before Sam Hain bagged only his second duck in 69 Blast innings for the Bears when he inside-edged Hudson Prentice behind.
Pollock struck five fours and four sixes but then lifted Logan van Beek to mid on before Matt Lamb's fluent 22 (17 balls) was terminated by a stunning catch by Luis Reece at extra cover off Scrimshaw.
Burgess's brisk 41 ended with a skier off Hudson-Prentice and only some late blows from Tim Bresnan (34, 24 balls) lifted the total above 150.
The Falcons' reply was given a spectacular start by Reeece who struck three fours and a six from the first over, from Liam Norwell. Reece and Harry Came both fell in the second over, by Bresnan, but du Plooy and Wood exploited the favourable batting conditions skilfully to add 90 in 60 balls.
Du Plooy lifted Brathwaite to extra cover but Wood advanced to a 44-ball half-century on his first T20 appearance of the season, and saw his side home.