Luke Fletcher injury overshadows narrow Notts Outlaws defeat

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A shocking injury to Notts Outlaws bowler Luke Fletcher overshadowed their six-wicket NatWestT20Blast defeat to Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.

The fast-bowler was taken to hospital in an ambulance after being struck on the head early in Birmingham’s reply to the Outlaws’ 158 for six.

Fletcher’s first ball was driven ferociously straight back by Sam Hain and struck him on the head in his follow-through.

The 28-year-old was soon on his feet but was helped from the field and, after initial treatment at the ground, taken to hospital.

One of the most popular players in county cricket, Fletcher was given the warmest of ovations from the 9,000 crowd and, typically, waved in acknowledgement. But with the players visibly concerned, the decision was taking to halt the game.

After half an hour, it was agreed to resume and the Notts players were warmly applauded back on to the field. They fought brilliantly to defend their below-par total and almost succeeded, but most thoughts were with Fletcher who, encouragingly, was photographed giving a double thumbs-up to a camera from the back of the ambulance.

Put in, Notts were troubled by the spin of Jeetan Patel (4-0-22-4) but recovered from 28 for three to total 158 thanks principally to Samit Patel’s classy 55 (33 balls, seven fours, one six) and Steven Mullaney’s 46 (31 balls, four fours, one six)

The Bears’ ploy to open the bowling with Patel paid off as he took three wickets in his first 11 balls; Michael Lumb brilliantly caught by William Porterfield at mid-wicket, and Alex Hales and Rikki Wessels, pouched at cow corner by Hain.

Patel then underpinned a recovery, adding 51 in 45 balls with Dan Christian (20, 27 balls) and 68 in 39 balls with Mullaney.

Birmingham started strongly as Ian Bell and Hain took 30 from three overs before the game was halted in light of Fletcher’s injury. After the resumption, Hain soon sliced Harry Gurney to point and Porterfield (20, 21 balls) ran himself out before Bell (47, 38 balls, five fours) lifted a reverse-sweep at Patel to Lumb at short third man.

Birmingham required 40 from the last five overs and Grant Elliott and Rikki Clarke took 15 off the first of them. Elliott’s 38 (22 balls, four fours, one six) saw his side to the brink of a victory but Notts dug deep and five runs from the last over, bowled by Christian, came down to one from the last ball, from which Colin De Grandhomme and Clarke scrambled the relevant single.