Words by Graham Hardcastle, ECB Reporters Network
Southern Brave’s disappointing title defence in the men’s Hundred ended with a whimper as they failed to chase 136 in a dead rubber defeat against Northern Superchargers at Headingley.
Both teams, out of finals contention before a ball was bowled here, should have performed better with the bat on a pitch which was tired but not disastrously so.
England’s Harry Brook top-scored with 29 for the Superchargers, who were inserted by the reigning champions and made 135 for eight. Fledgling leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed and seamer James Fuller each finished with two for 20.
In reply, Brave slumped to 34 for four in 26 balls and failed to recover. In posting 119 for nine, they suffered a fifth defeat in eight - this one by 16 runs.
Ahmed continued his impressive day with 33, but South African left-arm quick Wayne Parnell’s outstanding four for 16 ensured the Superchargers finish with a fourth win added to as many defeats.
After a breezy start, the Superchargers were checked by the varied spin of leg-spinner Ahmed, offie Paul Stirling and left-arm wrist spinner Jake Lintott. The latter two struck once apiece.
Three of their top four all reached 20 and failed to go on.
After the early departure of captain Faf du Plessis to Ahmed, caught by mid-on running around towards mid-off, his opening partner Adam Lyth made 20, David Willey reached 22 and Brook with his aforementioned 29.
But all holed out to catches in the deep as the score fell to 91 for four after 67 balls.
Seamer Sonny Baker had Lyth caught at deep midwicket off a top-edge and Brook caught in the same position pulling before Ahmed struck again when Adam Hose found long-on - 99 for five.
Michael Pepper, David Wiese and Parnell all made it into double figures and threatened late acceleration, though Brave were as clinical with the ball and in the field as they were so often last year and not enough this.
Seamer Fuller removed Wiese and Rashid in the penultimate set of five - again to catches in the deep.
In many ways, this Brave performance was a microcosm of this season’s campaign. Inconsistent.
After being polished with the ball and in the field, they were all over the place with the bat in the early stages of their reply, losing some serious firepower in the first 26 balls.
Quinton de Kock was run out trying to take a suicidal single to short fine-leg before Parnell’s left-arm seam accounted for Stirling and Alex Davies. Left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson then bowled captain James Vince.
From 34 for four, Ahmed and Ross Whiteley steadied with a partnership of 27.
However, when the latter miscued Adil Rashid’s leg-spin to long-on, leaving the score at 61 for five after 49 balls, it felt a decisive juncture. And so it proved.
Big-hitting Singaporean Tim David drilled Wiese to long-off shortly afterwards.
Freewheeling Ahmed continued his impressive day, and a turnaround was on the cards when he shared 28 in 16 balls with Fuller, both hitting strong shots down the ground.
But when Ahmed miscued Parnell to long-on, leaving the score at 104 for seven after 83 balls, 32 runs were still required.
That target became 26 off 10, and it was all but game over when Parnell yorked Fuller for 25 to leave 22 still needed off six.
Willey closed things out by bowling Baker, even celebrating with a forward roll!
Northern Superchargers’ match hero Wayne Parnell said:
“It seemed like a really nice wicket, but I think during the day it was maybe a little bit stoppy. I felt we were probably 20-30 runs under par.
“But, if we came out and got a couple of wickets early with our bowling line-up, we could probably restrict them. which we obviously managed to do.
“It’s always nice to perform. I’ve been feeling really good over the last couple of months in terms of my cricket. I’m just trying to keep things really simple. I know it’s that old cliche of keeping things really simple, but I’m just trusting my basics.
“Obviously it’s been a little bit up and down for us (Superchargers), but finishing off with a victory at Headingley is really special.
“The crowd has been great throughout the whole competition, so it’s just nice to send them off with that.”
Southern Brave coach Mahela Jayawardena said:
“It was disappointing. I thought we bowled really well, especially on a wicket like this to keep them to that. But we’re quite disappointed in the way the batters batted and the dismissals.
“No one was there to actually carry it through.
“It could have been an easy chase if someone had hung around. But it is disappointing. It probably sums up the season we’ve had. We haven’t been consistent with the bat or the ball.
“There’s a lot of things for us to go back and learn from and then plan for next year.”