Worcestershire Rapids went down by 22 runs in their latest Vitality Blast fixture against Gloucestershire at Blackfinch New Road although they produced a vastly improved performance with the bat.
The Rapids were well in contention for the majority of their innings in chasing a demanding target of 198 in 20 overs and at the half-way stage stood on 100-3.
Several of the Rapids players got established at the crease and scored freely although no-one was able to play the major knock or put together the sizeable partnership needed to help them over the finishing line and they closed on 175-8.
After the Bob Willis Trophy campaign and three scheduled Vitality Blast games in five days, Head Coach Alex Gidman said the Rapids will now have the opportunity to practice for two days as the attention switches to games against Somerset at Edgbaston and the return with Gloucestershire at Bristol.
Gloucestershire’s hero was Chris Dent who scored 60 off 33 balls and made two crucial interventions in the field to dismiss Hamish Rutherford and Riki Wessels when in full flight.
Gidman, said: “I thought it was an excellent T20 wicket and a good game which sadly we were on the wrong end of. It was certainly an improved batting performance from the other day (against Northamptonshire Steelbacks) which is good, however we didn’t quite get it right with the ball enough.
“Was the target achievable or too many? Both. It was achievable but it’s a long shot chasing anything around 200 and doesn’t happen very often. It needs something pretty special with the bat and, although we were close, we didn’t quite get that special innings or partnership.
“But the bowlers have got to take it on the chin like the batters the other day. They probably scored 10-15 too many and if we have a look at ourselves, we probably could have saved those 10-15 runs pretty easily.
“It is not a criticism at all but we just needed the one guy to get an 80-90 or that one partnership where two guys get 40s or 50s and we didn’t quite do it.
“Had we done that, we would have had the firepower to get over the line. But it needs something pretty special to chase down that sort of total.”
Gidman confirmed England paceman Pat Brown – the Rapids leading wicket-taker in the Vitality Blast for the past two years is available for the remainder of the tournament.
Brown was playing his first senior game of competitive cricket today since appearing in the T10 League in Abu Dhabi in November
Gidman said: “It was Pat’s first (senior) game in pretty much a year. With the scheduling, he has only played a couple of days of club cricket. Understandably Pat was a little bit rusty.”
Gloucestershire opted to bat on the same wicket used for the Rapids opening home game against Northamptonshire Steelbacks 48 hours earlier.
Leg spinner Brett D’Oliveira made the breakthrough when Dent (60) holed out to Worcestershire T20 captain Ed Barnard at cover at 82-1 in the ninth over.
Dillon Pennington struck twice in one over in bowling Ian Cockbain (28) and having Miles Hammond (48) caught at long on by Wessels.
Ryan Higgins (30 not out off 17 balls) and Gloucestershire T20 captain Jack Taylor (27 not out off 16 balls) ensured Gloucestershire posted a stiff target.
Pennington ended with 2-27 from three overs and D’Oliveira 1-36 from four.
When Worcestershire launched their reply, Rutherford showed the same attacking intent as Dent in launching a spectacular start to proceedings.
The second over of the innings from Matt Taylor cost 25 runs – including six over long on from Rutherford – who reached 30 off just 14 balls.
The New Zealander departed to a fine low catch by Dent at long on off David Payne but his opening partner Wessels, and Jack Haynes continued in the same vein.
A straight six by Haynes off Higgins meant the Rapids powerplay had produced 79 runs and laid the ideal platform.
Haynes (23) was lbw sweeping at Tom Smith and Wessels (30) lofted Graeme van Buuren towards the long on boundary only for Dent on the rope to grasp the ball and then off load to Hammond to complete the catch.
Jake Libby (12) and Brett D’Oliveira (26), after striking two sixes, were both caught at widish mid-off – the former off the bowling of spinner Smith who conceded only 17 runs and picked up two wickets in his four overs.
Ben Cox (4) fell on the mid-wicket boundary and Barnard (10) was bowled – both by David Payne – before Ross Whiteley (25) was run out in the final over.