T20 County Finals at Egbaston

Vitality Blast T20 County Finals at Egbaston Saturday September 15th

Semi Final Sussex v Somerset

SUSSEX Sharks turned a thoroughly professional performance to beat Somerset by 35 runs to reach the Vitality Blast  T20 final.

They  hit 202 the highest score on finals day at Edgbaston and skipper Luke Wright hit the highest individual score of 92 beating the 88 made by Keaton Jennings for Durham two years ago.

Wright won the toss and decided to bat.  They lost two early wickets inside the first five overs.  After a confident start Phil  Salt scooped Jerome Taylor to Max Waller at mid off. Laurie Evans was the next to go when he was hit full on his pads by Taylor  and was leg before.

At the halfway stage nobody could foresee the carnage that was about to happen. In the next five overs the Sharks hit 86.  They won the match when Jamie Overton had an horrible over which consisted of nine balls and went for 31 runs as he couldn’t get his direction right.  It also included a beamer which he apologised for  straight away and a couple of wides.  Wright smashed the first legal ball of the over for a six to bring up his fifty which included four sixes.

Somerset skipper Lewis Gregory said: “We weren't good enough today and we came up against a team who put us under a lot of pressure.   When we were  bowling there was a lot of clouded thinking. We are disappointed and I don’t think that we fired with the ball as we have but Luke played brilliantly and put us under pressure and we didn’t keep him quiet.  Their score was too much for us.  I think on that pitch we would have hoped to chase 180.

Their bowlers have been brilliant throughout their campaign and on a day like today it comes down to who performs and deals with the pressure.  Tymal Mills, Chris Jordan and Jofa  Archer were brilliant and when you come up against high class bowlers who are on top of their game it’s hard.

This season we have played some really good g=cricket across all three formats and we are moving in the right direction and in thge next two or three years we could do special things.”

In their reply Somerset lost three wickets in the powerplay overs and one of them was the man who could have blasted them out of trouble, Peter Trego.  The only big partnership of their reply was 44 in 84 balls between Tom Abell and Corey Anderson.  Abell got the Somerset chase some impetus when he hit 25 off the ninth over from Danny Briggs.  He top edged a sweep off Briggs and was caught on thge boundary edge by Evans but as he felt he was going over the boundary he relayed the ball to Salt to complete the catch.  But the replay showed Evans’ heel touching the boundary sponge.

Abell was run out when Anderson drilled the ball straight back to Briggs and the bowler reacted quick enough to flick the ball on to the stumps and run Abell out. Abell might have made his  ground if he had reacted as quickly  as Briggs.

Anderson was caught at mid on but the ball was ruled over waiste height.  The Sharks got Anderson when he tried to drill Archer but the ball got big on him and he got an outside edge to Mills at short third man.

Semi Final Lancashire v Worcestershire

WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids’ Pat Brown maintained his form as the Vitality Blast T20 leading wicket taker by bowling his side into their  first final with four wickets for 21 in his four overs.

He took his last three wickets  in the 19th over of the Lancashire Lightning reply.   Chasing 170 to to win the Lightning started the 19th over needing with four wickets standing.  James Faulkner batting with Jos Buttler as a runner, flat batted him to Tom Fell at long on.  Toby Lester had a cross batted slog at Brown but missed the ball and was bowled. Brown got his third wicket of the over when Matthew Parkinson got too far under the ball and skied him to Fell at long on.

Lightning skipper Liam Livingstone said: “Brown was difficult to face with his variations.  We were outplayed. It’s a shame to fall at this hurdle but we have played some good cricket in this year’s competition.  We’ve had a few hiccups but we’ve come back from them stronger as we will with this one.”

A seventh wicket partnership of 72 in six overs between Oliver Cox and Ed Barnard gave the Rapids a score to defend after they had slumped to 97 four six in 14 overs.  The pair seamed to be running out overs but in the 19th over they hit 27. Cox, who was left out of their championship defeat to Surrey hit Lester for three sixes. Livingstone added: “Cox read the situation very well and took it out of our hands.”

Cox clubbed Toby Lester over deep mid wicket for a six, he paddled swept the second ball to the third man boundary.    Cox took a couple of steps down the wicket for another six over deep mid wicket which brought up the first 50 partnership for the seventh wicket in Finals Day.  He picked up the next ball for another six over deep mid wicket. 

His partner Barnard deftly played  a leg ramp to Keaton Jennings to the fine leg boundary. In the next over reverse swept Zahir Khan to the point boundary.                                     

After been put into bat the Rapids were doing well and in the second over of the match they hit 23 off Lightning’s skipper Livingstone’s only over.  But at the end of their eighth over and ninth over they lost three wickets without scoring.   

First Moeen Ali got too far under a drive off Zahir Khan  and skied it to Faulkner running from long on.  Fell late cut  the next ball to Lester at short third man but Brett D’Oliveria was late in setting off and was run out without facing a ball.  Next ball Fell was stumped by Jos Buttler off Parkinson.

Moeen Ali had looked destined to get the rapids to the final when  he got the Rapids scoring going with consecutive boundaries off Lester’s first over .     In Livingstone’s only over Moeen Ali hit four boundaries and a straight six.    

Big hitter Rus Whiteley had a big swing at Parkinson but missed the ball and was bowled. Daryl Mitchell tried to work Clark to leg but was given out leg before by umpire Mark Saggers.  Mitchell was disappointed with the decision because he thought the ball was going down leg which was supported by the television replay.

Joe Clarke bowled by a slower ball out of the back of Faulkner’s hand that speared into Clarke’s leg stump.

In the Lightning’s chase Alex Davies drilled a ball from Luke  Wood straight back and nearly decapitated his skipper at the nonstrikers end. The Lightning lost their first wicket when Davies flicked Brown off his to Barnard at backward square and wanted two but was run out.

In Wood’s second over Arron  Lilley drilled the ball back to him and Wood stuck his hands in a case of preservation.

Livingstone backed away from Wayne  Parnell and lofted him over long on but it dropped short off a six.  Two balls later Lilley smeared Brown for a six over long on.  Livingstone clipped him over square leg and hit the roof of the Hollies stand.

He carried in the same vein and clipped Barnard off his legs for a six over long long on.  He tried to repeat the shot two balls later but got an outside edge to a. Slower ball and took a great running catch to his left  from point.

Lilley walked across his stumps to play Moeen Ali to leg but missed the ball and was plum leg before.  Buttler was the next to go when he  backed away from Moeen Ali and chopped on.  Livingstone added: “Moeen took the game away from us, we were always trying to brag it back.”

By now the game was slipping away from the Lightning.  Dane Vilas was the next to go when he  drove Barnard to mid on and turned for a second but was sent back by Jennings but Vilas couldn’t make his ground.

Brown got his first wicket of the match when Clark clipped him off his legs to Mitchell coming in from the square leg boundary.

With 29 needed of the last over Keaton Jennings delcined a single off the first ball.  Looked like he was going to it in sixes.  All went  to plan as he hit the next ball for  a straight six to bring up his fifty but the dream ended there.

Final Worcestershire v Sussex     

WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids won the Vitality Blast T20 for the first time by beating Sussex Sharks by five wickets with nine balls to spare.

Needing 17 to win from two overs the Rapids benefited from Jordan Archer who bowled a no ball for height which went for four.  Ben Cox pulled the next ball over square leg.  That ball cost the Sharks 12 runs and Coix  pulled the next ball to square leg boundary for their victory.

With five overs remains  the Rapids needed 49.  Cox reverse paddled a slow ball from Archer to the third man boundary and drilled the next ball over Chris  Jordan at mid off for another boundary.  Ross Whiteley drilled the next ball  to Jordan at long on. With his dismissal the Rapids dreams looked doomed.  But Cox thought otherwise he smashed Jordan straight back over his head for a six. A couple off the next ball left the Rapids needing  17 off two overs.

Moeen Ali said:” “I am delighted, the guys deserved it after the way they’ve played this year.  I thought it was Coxy’s day after the way he played in both games. He deserved it after the week he’s had.

It’s been a tough 10 years for one at the club and I would like to pay tribute to ex coach Stephen Rhodes who put everything in place.  I think that we can better next year.”

Man of the match Cox said: “I can’t believe it, it’s taken us 15 years to get here. To keep them down to 157 was fantastic. We’ve come to finals day and put in a couple of good performances. I am just chuffed. I am proud, it’s been a tough week for me and I’ve had both the highs and lows. But I'm happy with the  way I bounced back.  I think we won the game in the first half.  I found it hard facing their slower bowlers but I could use the pace of their quick bowlers.

Pat Brown has been outstanding all season. He’s one of the best death bowlers in the country.”

Beaten skipper Luke Wright said: “We made an under par score but credit to them they bowled well throughout the innings.  Brown mixes it up and he’s. A great prospect.  If we had to lose to anybody it would be Worcestershire.

I am proud of my team. It’s been a great learning curve for the young guys.  If we had scored another 15 or 20 runs we might have done the job.”

The Rapids openers made a patient start to their chase and  waited for the bad balls which they dispatched to the boundary.  Moeen Ali took. a couple of steps down the wicket opened the bat face and drove Jordan to the extra cover boundary.  To end the over he pulled Jordan to the square leg boundary.

In their powerplay they scored 53 without loss compared to the Sharks 43 for one the lowest score in the three matches.

Moeen Ali pulled Danny Briggs over mid wicket for the first six of the Rapids’ chase.  Two balls later his opening partner Joe Clarke edged a drive off Briggs to stumper Mike Burgess.

The Rapids lost their second wicket  in the next over when Tom Fell drilled Will Beer to Wright at short cover.  Brett D’Oliveira missed a drive off Briggs and was stumped by Burgess.  Moeen Ali went down the wicket to Will Beer, opened his shoulders and drilled him straight to Phil  Salt at long off. Again the Sharks looked favourites.

After their explosive semi final against Somerset, the final was a much more sudbdue affair.

The Sharks skipper Wright won the toss and decided  to bat.  the crowd thought they were in for repeat performance of the explosive innings from the Sharks they had produced in the semi final.    In the second they thought that they were.  Opener Salt opened his left leg and smashed Wayne Parnell over long on for the first six of the Sharks innings he flat batted the next ball  for another six over long  off.   He was unlucky to be run out for 17.  He chopped Parnell to D’Oliveira at point and set off for a single.  As he reached the bowler's end he didn't ground his bat and his foot was in the air.

Wright was joined by Laurie Evans and he  smeared Parnell off his legs over cow corner into the Hollies stand.  Two balls later Wright took a couple of steps down the wicket and flat batted Parnell over long off into the pavilion for another six.

After hitting consecutive fours off Parnell, Evans drilled the next ball for his six. But the Sharks were tied down by Moeen Ali and Brown at the end of their innings.  Moeen Ali took three wickets for 30 in his four overs and Brown’s four overs only cost him 15 runs.

Frustrated at being tied down by Moeen Ali, Wright went down the wicket to him missed the ball and was bowled.

Delray Rawlins hit consecutive sixes off D'Oliveira.  The first a huge one over long on and the second behind square. But after a few dot balls Rawlins lost patience and went for a big hit of Moeen Ali and found Brown at long off.  David Wiese tried to cut Moeen Ali but the ball was too close to him and he chopped on.

Evans tried to pull a slow full toss from Ed  Barnard and was bowled. His 52 came from 44 ball with four fours and two sixes.

Burgess smashed a full toss to D’Oliveira on the deep mid wicket boundary but as he caught it he touched the boundary sponge.