International Cricket

Match Report – NOTTS vs NHNTS North Group, May 31, 2024

Northamptonshire 157 for 2 (Willey 79, Breetzke 51*) beat Nottinghamshire 154 (Haynes 51, Zaib 3-12, Scrimshaw 3-16) by eight wickets

Skipper David Willey smashed seven sixes and seven fours in a 34-ball 79 as Northamptonshire Steelbacks made it two Vitality Blast wins from two with a crushing eight-wicket win over Notts Outlaws.

After bowling Outlaws out for 154, Steelbacks knocked off their target with a commanding 40 balls to spare, South African opener Matthew Breetzke hitting the winning boundary in a 30-ball unbeaten 51. Northamptonshire had never won at Trent Bridge in seven previous visits in the shortest format.

Outlaws had appeared set for a substantial score after building on a 63-run powerplay to be 104 for 1 after 10 overs, new skipper Joe Clarke and Outlaws debutant Jack Haynes having shared a 95-run partnership from 58 balls.

But Clarke fell for 48 and Haynes for 51 and the home side lost their last nine wickets for 50 in 9.2 overs.

Left-arm spinner Saif Zaib – only an occasional bowler in this format – took a T20 career-best 3 for 12 in three overs, with 6ft 7ins pace bowler George Scrimshaw claiming three for 16 from 14 balls.

Asked to bat first, Outlaws lost Alex Hales in the second over, caught behind after making room to cut Raphy Weatherall, but raced to 63 for 1 in the opening six nonetheless, Clarke hammering two sixes and Haynes another amid a rush of boundaries.

The second-wicket pair had added 95 by the end of the 10th over before they were stopped in their tracks by left-arm spinner Saif Zaib – the seventh bowler used by David Willey – as Clarke was caught by off-side sweeper Ricardo Vasconcelos for 48 off 30 balls.

A brilliant piece of fielding by Willey from mid-off then ran out Will Young and when Tom Moores holed out to long-on for 9 Outlaws had stumbled from 104 for 1 to 117 for 4 in three overs, with the scoring rate being dragged back for good measure by the slower bowlers.

The Northamptonshire fightback continued with Zaib striking twice in his second over as Haynes was caught at wide long-on and Matt Montgomery was bowled sweeping.

Willey re-entered the attack to bowl Calvin Harrison off an inside edge before the unravelling continued thanks to two in two by George Scrimshaw as Lyndon James was out via a steepling catch and Dillon Pennington leg before. Scrimshaw wrapped things up by having Olly Stone caught behind as Outlaws failed even to bat out the full 20 overs.

The early wicket of Vasconcelos, caught at slip as a scoop went badly wrong, lifted home spirits momentarily but they had fallen flat by the end of the powerplay, with Steelbacks ahead at 68 for 1 after the sixth over saw Willey hammer his one-time Northamptonshire team-mate Stone for 4-4-6-4-4-1, before going 6-2-4 off legspinner Harrison’s first three deliveries to complete a 21-ball fifty.

Willey’s explosive innings continued with four more huge sixes off the first four balls of Harrison’s second over. The left-hander clearly had it in mind to go for a full set but his luck ran out next ball, which he mistimed just enough for it to drop into the hands of James at long-off.

Nonetheless, with opener Breetzke, who faced only 20 balls in the opening 10 overs, at last getting a look-in to clear the rope off Stone, Steelbacks reached the halfway point needing just 35 more for victory.

As it was, it took them only another 20 balls to get the job done, Breetzke and Ravi Bopara picking up two more maximums each before the former lofted Montgomery’s offspin through long-off for the winning boundary, completing his maiden Outlaws half-century in the process.

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