Warwickshire got their T20 Cup campaign back on track at Beckenham today with two wins from their two matches, thanks to consecutive half-centuries from Gwenan Davies.
The opener carried her bat in both matches, finishing with 66* (50 balls) and 59* (49 balls) as the Bears secured both victories by big margins, beating Kent by 22 runs and Middlesex by 10 wickets with 6 overs to spare.
In the first match of the day, against Kent, Warwickshire accumulated an impressive 152 in their 20 overs, despite the early loss of captain Marie Kelly, who departed in Tash Farrant’s first over, sending up a top edge to long leg, leaving the Bears 2-1.
Davies, though, was uncowed and quickly took on the big-hitting role, punching one of Megan Belt’s first deliveries of the day for a mammoth six over long on – the ball hit the first floor of the flats which overlook the ground, and took several minutes to be retrieved by a friendly resident!
Kent did make breakthroughs at the other end – with Thea Brookes falling to a smart direct hit run-out from Alice Davidson-Richards at mid off – and Davies also rode her luck, dropped several times on the way to her half-century; but her positive approach ensured Warwickshire topped 150 by the end of their allotted overs.
It was a formidable total, though Fran Wilson (presumably released from England duty) gave Kent hope for a time with some beautiful crisp cuts through the off side. Nonetheless by the time Wilson was out, clean bowled by Bethan Ellis in the 10th over, they were already well behind the rate at 52-2; and despite a valiant rearguard effort from Davidson-Richards (42 from 34 balls) they fell well short of the required runs.
The day’s second match saw the “Battle of the Bullets”, as Warwickshire speedster Issy Wong went up against Middlesex’s T20 signing Lauren Bell.
Wong gained the early advantage, having Amara Carr caught at mid on in her second over of the day; and it only went downhill from there for Middlesex after Jess Couser took wickets with successive deliveries to leave them 37-3 after 7 overs.
Bethan Ellis then repeated the feat – her second wicket being the important one of Cordelia Griffith, who had looked in excellent touch but ended up chipping it to short third man for 17.
Middlesex subsequently slowed almost to a halt, amassing only 18 runs between overs 12 and 16, though some fumbled run-out attempts by Warwickshire allowed Beth Morgan to finish with a flourish, unbeaten on 23* as Middlesex just about managed 3 figures.
The Bears, though, made a mockery of their 101-run target, hurtling towards it at 1000 miles per hour thanks to Davies and fellow opener Marie Kelly (36*). Davies was hit on the leg early in the run chase and spent much of the ensuing overs limping; but solved the problem by hitting the ball hard enough and placing it well enough to enable her for the most part to simply stand and watch it sail over the boundary rope.
Middlesex’s miseries continued in the last match of the day, a thriller of a game in which Kent eventually did what they had failed to do against the Birmingham Bears and chased down an unlikely target of 150.
Middlesex’s total of 149 was set up by a 68-run opening partnership between Cordelia Griffith and Amara Carr, Carr eventually bringing up a half-century while Griffith continued her excellent season with some big striking down the ground.
In reply Kent looked dead and buried after losing two quick wickets in their second over – Grace Gibbs run out and Maxine Blythin caught behind.
Wilson, though, came together with Davidson-Richards in a 99-run partnership that saw a flurry of boundaries as both achieved half-centuries, with Middlesex burning through their first-change bowlers in a desperate attempt to stem the flow.
When Gaya Gole finally dismissed Wilson in the 13th over – stumped thanks to a smart piece of keeping from Carr – it looked like the scales had tipped in Middlesex’s favour, especially when Gole also bowled Tash Farrant two balls later with the perfect yorker.
But the match had one more sting in the tail: Lauren Griffiths joining the fray to finish things with a six and a four over midwicket – Kent eventually winning with an over to spare.
It means that reigning champions Middlesex are now bottom of Division 1; while Warwickshire have moved into second place behind Hampshire – with the winner of the last ever County T20 Cup to be decided by the final round of matches next weekend.