Wednesday, May 24th, 2023


Worcestershire Rapids got their 2023 Vitality Blast campaign off to a winning start with an excellent 15-run success over Northamptonshire Steelbacks at the County Ground, Northampton.   

Adam Hose’s powerful hitting and a fine all-round performance from Usama Mir played major roles in the Rapids success.  

Hose demonstrated the kind of form evident when the third-highest scorer in the 2022 Blast in striking 61 off 40 balls.

He hit two sixes and six fours in continuing the fine form when making 84 in the weekend LV=Insurance County Championship win over Leicestershire.

But there were also contributions all down the order from Jack Haynes, Kashif Ali, Ben Cox, Ed Pollock and Usama Mir in a total of 196-9.

The Steelbacks got their innings off to a positive start but were gradually pegged back, and Usama Mir completed a fine all-round performance.

The Pakistan leg spinner bamboozled the Steelbacks batters and finished with 3-21 from his four overs.

He received superb support from new Rapids T20 captain Brett D’Oliveira (3-28), and the two leg spinners had combined figures of 6-49.

They were backed up by some excellent catching and ground fielding as Northamptonshire lost five wickets for 26 runs in five overs after reaching 90-1 and were restricted to 181-8.

It was the ideal start to the tournament for the Rapids before successive home games against Yorkshire Vikings (Friday) and Leicestershire Foxes on Bank Holiday Monday.

D’Oliveira opted to bat after winning the toss on a glorious sunny evening.

The Rapids handed debuts to all-rounder Michael Bracewell and Usama Mir and a first T20 appearance for Hose.

Bracewell opened the innings and spectacularly got off the mark with a huge six over mid-wicket off Thomas Taylor before being caught at deep square leg off the next delivery.

D’Oliveira, Worcestershire’s T20 Player Of The Year in 2021 and 2022, smashed David Willey for successive fours through the off-side.

He was bowled for 11 after attempting to flick a delivery from Tom Taylor down to fine leg.

Hose greeted Andrew Tye’s introduction into the attack with a superb straight drive for four.

Haynes lofted Tye for a massive six over long on in an over costing 16 runs, and Hose despatched spinner Graeme White’s first delivery for another maximum.

Successive boundaries for the England Lions player meant the Rapids ended the powerplay on 57-2, including 32 runs off overs five and six.

Haynes raced to 27 off 17 balls before he picked out long-on in Rob Keogh’s first over, and the Rapids stood on 82-3 at the halfway stage. 

Kashif Ali, making his first senior appearance of the campaign, demonstrated his hitting power with a huge six out of the ground off James Sales meant a replacement ball was needed.

He repeated the shot when Willey returned to the attack before finding the hands of deep mid-wicket in the same over after making 16.

Hose continued to score freely and also survived a chance to wide mid off against Sales when on 43.

An excellent half century was completed from 34 balls with two sixes and four fours before he saluted his teammates.

Hose had scored his career-best T20 score of 119 against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston in 2020, and he raced onto 61 before White pulled off a fine return catch running towards mid-on of a waist-high delivery.

His dismissal brought in Pollock, and he demonstrated his awesome power with three huge legside sixes in an over from Taylor.

Cox (17) fell to the final ball of the same over when bowled attempting a scoop shot, and Pollock, having made 23 off 11 balls, fell at long off against Tye. 

Usama Mir showed his batting potential with two sixes in his 20 not out from seven balls to maintain the Rapids momentum before Adam Finch and Mitchell Stanley were run out in the final over.

Northamptonshire made an aggressive start to their reply, and the 50 came up in 4.1 overs.

But Mitchell Stanley picked up the big wicket of Chris Lynn (28) when he found the hands of Pat Brown at deep backward square.

Usama Mir came into the attack for the eighth over and was successful with his fourth delivery bowling Ricardo Vasconcelos for 32.

Pat Brown swapped ends and accounted for Josh Cobb, with Adam Finch holding onto an excellent low catch running in from the cover boundary.

Usama Mir swapped to the pavilion end and experienced more joy as Saif Zaib went for a reverse sweep and picked out Kashif Ali at short fine leg.

The Rapids attack was now on top, and when D’Oliveira came into the attack, he had Willey (36) safely pouched by Haynes at deep backward square.

Usama Mir made it three wickets in three overs as Rob Keogh could only find Brown at deep mid-wicket.

Lewis McManus perished to Bracewell at long on, and Sales was bowled to complete an excellent night’s work with the ball by D’Oliveira.