Last Updated: 16/09/18 2:11pm
Worcestershire claimed the Vitality Blast honours on a day featuring milestones for Luke Wright, young seamer Pat Brown impressing and Rob Key in a fish head!
Here is the pick of the action from a fun-filled Finals Day…
Worcestershire win out
Moeen Ali skippered Worcestershire to their first white-ball trophy since the 2007 NatWest Pro 40 and their first knockout title since the NatWest Trophy in 1994, with young and not so young coming to the fore.
Ali, a virtual veteran among a youthful Rapids side at the age of 31, scored 41 in both of his innings, against Lancashire Lightning in the semi-finals and Sussex Sharks in the final, and bagged a combined five wickets across both matches at Edgbaston on Saturday.
The England man was hailed as an “outstanding individual” by Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain but the all-rounder was supported by some trusty lieutenants, including wicketkeeper Ben Cox.
Cox – dropped for the side’s County Championship fixture with Surrey last week – was named player of the match twice in a day, with an unbeaten 55 against Lancashire followed by a title-winning 46 not out against Sussex.
Four-day cricket has been a tough gig for Worcestershire – Championship survival now looks a tall order – but they have flourished in the white-ball stuff, also making the semi-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Brown red-hot for Rapids
Kent made the One-Day Cup final at Worcestershire’s expense with Harry Podmore striking the winning runs in Pat Brown’s final over.
However, Cox, speaking after Worcestershire’s Blast win, said that setback was “probably one of the best things that will ever happen” to Brown and remarked how he has “come back so strong”. Not half!
The 20-year-old was scintillating during the Blast, taking a tournament-high 31 wickets – only two behind ex-Somerset seamer Alfonso Thomas’ record 33 in an English T20 season – and flourished on the big stage at Edgbaston.
A haul of 4-21 against Lancashire in the semis, in which three of his scalps came in a one-run 19th over, was followed by 0-15 in the final as he sent down 13 dot balls out of 24. Batsman were absolutely bewildered in both matches by his array of slower deliveries and knuckleballs.
Hussain has now urged him to test his mettle in T20 cricket across the globe: “I would say to him you are hot now. Not to cash in but make your money around the world and play franchise cricket.”
Wright on cue on milestone day
Saturday night did not end the way Luke Wright wanted as Sussex failed to win the Blast for the second time – but the Sharks skipper does now hold the record individual score at Finals Day.
Wright’s rumbustious 92 from 53 balls in the semi-final win over Somerset, in which he blazed seven sixes and five fours, saw him top the 88 Keaton Jennings struck for Durham against Northants in 2016.
The 33-year-old looked on for a biggie in the final, too, only to then be bowled through the gate by a beauty from Worcestershire skipper Ali.
The final marked Wright’s 300th Twenty20 game and if his Finals Day form is anything to go by, he has a fair few more matches left in him.
Keysy in the crowd
Rob Key is always up for a laugh.
During England’s series against India, he scaled a climbing wall at The Ageas Bowl and also went boating and trainspotting with Bumble – but on Finals Day he took an excursion into the crowd.
Armed with a selfie stick, Keysy mingled with the fancy-dressed and, dare I say, well-lubricated, fans in the Hollies Stand. Rob, to his credit, did not become well lubricated, swiftly refusing the offer of beer from a shoe.
Another highlight was the reaction from Nasser as Key removed a fish head that had been placed over his bonce. “Put it back on, Key!” bellowed Nas from the sanctuary of the Pod!
Leicestershire critter wins Mascot Derby
Three-time T20 champions Leicestershire did not make it to Finals Day this year, though they still had something to toast as Charlie Fox prevailed in the 2018 Mascot Derby.
The smart money was on two-time reigning champion Alfred the Gorilla, of Gloucestershire, but the primate’s winning run came to an end.
Charlie pinched it on the line by a nose from Durham’s River the Lion, who was later disqualified for failing to properly orbit a big white cricket ball. Who would have thought the Mascot Derby would be fraught with controversy?!
Roll on 2019!
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