I wasn’t able to make the long journey to Durham for the quarter final, Essex were facing Lancashire Lightning who’d won 8 of their 14 matches, they finished top of their league, Essex had won 5, finishing 4th.
Simon Harmer won the toss and put Lancashire in to bat,. Aaron Beard struck in the first over bowling Liam Livingstine for 4; 2 wickets from Ravi Bopara saw Lancashire fall to 47 for 4 in the 7th over, not the best of starts for the ‘home’ team. Opener Alex Davies and captain Dane Vilas put on 80 for the 4th wicket and Lancashire finished their 20 overs on 159 for 5.
The weather wasn’t the best, go figure, Durham in September! Essex lost an early wicket, with Tom Westley being caught and bowled by Saqib Mahmood for 8. Cameron Delport and Adam Wheater put on 56 but were then out within 2 balls, with Delport falling to a catch and Wheater being run out. At 66 for 3 in the 9th over 166 looked a long way away. Dan Lawrence added 15 having batted with Ryan ten Doeschate. Essex were 105 for 4 in the 15th over. It took a partnership between 2 Essex stalwarts Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate to see them to Finals Day, the pair are like a well oiled machine . Bopara made 39 from 18 balls and ten Doeschate 45 from 31, Essex won with 4 balls to spare.
I’d decided earlier in the year not to buy a ticket for Finals Day, that all changed with my team wining a place! I knew Essex would have 750 tickets but didn’t want to take the risk, I bought myself one on Twickets, a fan to fan site set up through Twitter.
The draw was made, and hallelujah Essex were drawn to play in the second game of the day, they’d make it further than they had before. Essex would face Derbyshire and last year’s Champions Worcestershire would play Nottinghamshire in the morning.
Simon Harmer won the toss and elected to bat, openers Cameron Delport and Tom Westley went at 100mph, they certainly showed some intent. Delport scored 55 from 31 balls, including 9 Fours before he was out, caught by Luis Reece from the bowling of Alex Hughes. Essex were 78 for 1 after 8.1 overs.
Both Dan Lawrence and Ryan ten Doeschate had scored centuries in the game against Surrey earlier in the week, but neither was to make a mark with the bat. Lawrence was caught by Matt Critchley out for 3 and ten Doeschate trapped LBW by Reece for just 1. 78 for 1 had moved quickly to 96 for 4 in the 12th over. The possibility of a huge score seemed to be melting away.
Enter Ravi Bopara, he’d played a major part in getting Essex to this stage, scoring 70 from 35 balls against Surrey and 47 from 27 against Kent, their last 2 group games.
Tom Westley was next to go, he’d made 39 from 34 balls before being caught by Leus du Plooy from the bowling of Reece. Reece played his part in taking the next wicket; Bopara, catching him from the bowling of Ravi Rampaul. Bopara had scored 27 from 20 balls and Essex were 141 for 5.
Adam Wheater added 20 from 17 balls and Paul Walter 8, Essex finished on what would be the highest score for the day, 160 for 5.
Derbyshire faced an early blow when Aaron Beard took the wicket of Reece, a great catch from Adam Wheater, he’d made all 19 runs on the board and was out in the 2nd over. Essex’s spinners then went on something of a spree, with captain Simon Harmer taking 4 for 19 in his 4 overs and young Aron Niijar taking 3 for 26 in his. Dan Lawrence, who has one of the strangest approaches and Cameron Delport took the last 2 wickets and Derbyshire were out for 126 in 18.4 overs: Essex were in the Final!
Worcestershire had beaten Notts in the first semi-final (more to come on that), Simon Harmer won another toss and this time elected to bowl. Essex took another early wicket, with Hamish Rutherford being bowled by Dan Lawrence for 4 on the 3rd ball of the match!
That brought Moeen Ali to the crease, with a high score of 121* in the Blast he was a real threat. Riki Wessels and Moeen were going well when the Eagles captain came along and broke up their partnership, Moeen hit the ball straight back and with some effort on the part of Harmer, he was gone for 32.
Ben Cox was trapped LBW when he tried to sweep the first ball be received, he was out for a Golden Duck and Harmer was on a hat-trick! Not the best decision by the young batsman.
With those 2 quick wickets Worcestershire struggled to build another big partnership. Wayne Parnell scored 19 before being bowled by Harmer, Wessels who’d opened was run out on 31 after a throw from Paul Walter.
Daryl Mitchell’s was the 6th wicket to fall in the 17th over, he’d made 19 from 15 balls and Worcestershire were 119 for 6 after 16.5 overs. They put 0n 26 in the last 4 overs, losing another 3 wickets. Essex would need 146 to lift the trophy.
Having fired in the semi-final, Cameron Delport failed to do so in the final, he was caught by Wessels from the bowling of Parnell in the 3rd over. He’d scored just 1 and Essex just 9. Moeen had kept things quiet from one end, it wasn’t the best of starts for Essex!
Adam Wheater joined Tom Westley and the pair put on 38 before Wheater tried to sweep a ball from Daryl Mitchell, he wasn’t the first to get out playing what proved to be a silly shot that day. Out for 15 and Essex were 47 for 2 in the 8th over.
Tom Westley who’d opened scored 36 from 31 ball before skying a ball he didn’t;t get enough on, he was caught by Pat Brown from the bowling of Parnell. Essex were 65 for 3 after 10.3 overs.
As an Essex fan it felt like things were moving on too slowly and the game was getting away. That feeling wasn’t helped when Ryan ten Doeschate was out for just 1 after facing 4 balls. That put Essex on 75 for 4 after 11.5 overs. 146 seemed a long way away.
Ravi Bopara was still to come however, he and Lawrence put on just 8 before Lawrence was caught by Wessells from the bowling of Moeen.
Essex had 41 balls to score 64 runs to win their first T20 trophy. Ravi Bopara was the man most likely after the run in to this FinalS Day. Batting with Paul Walter, who at 6ft 10 looks like he’s holding a child’s bat, put on 47 of the 71 required before he was bowled by Pat Brown.
There was an inevitability in Simon Harmer coming to join Bopara, there’d been some angst between the 2 earlier in the summer, but Bopara had been playing the cricket of his life in the lead up to Finals Day.
Bopara scored 36 from 22 balls and Harmer 18 from 7 balls, he hit the winning runs, when it came down to the final ball and Essex needed 1 to draw level. Unlike the World Cup Final the result would then have hinged on wickets and Essex had the edge there. But, he hit the ball for Four, I realised during the week after the match. He flew down the wicket and ran round half the field in his absolute joy! A first T20 Final and a first T20 Trophy!
In spite of some of the things life has thrown at me it's hard to find me without a smile on my face.I have 2 beautiful children and now 3 lovely grandsons, I love sport and writing about it; which I do at debsknigsport.com
Here I want to share with you my thoughts on life, some sadness but hopefully a lot of happiness too. To show people that life can be wonderful even after tough times.
Very well written article, great to re-live it!
Thank you! More to follow, we’ve had some successful years