I’ll admit, I am a sports fanatic, in fact, a very crazy one. I watch a lot of sports and its obvious, I’ll be cheering and supporting many teams. When it comes to English domestic cricket, I support the Essex Eagles. Not sure how and why I support this club, but since the past few years I have been following Essex cricket. Be it the County Championship, the Royal London One Day Cup or the Natwest T20 Blast, Essex has my support and always will.
A Pretty Good Season For Essex So Far
Many would disagree with me putting the word ‘pretty’ instead of words like great or brilliant, but I am a fan who always wants more from my team. By more I mean, more trophies and titles, of course! I know Essex have done incredibly well to win the Natwest T20 Blast for the very first time (more of that a bit later) and are on the brink of winning the County Championship, but a poor show in the One Dayers has compelled me to use the word ‘pretty good’ rather than words like ‘great’ or ‘brilliant’. But honestly, fingers crossed. Hopefully, the Ryan ten Doeschate led Essex side pips Somerset (who they are currently playing in their last league match) to bag another County Championship trophy.
T20 Blast Finals Day
Okay, so the format in the T20 Blast is slightly different than other tournaments. The round-robin stage is pretty much the same, but the semis and finals are different. Instead of having three separate days, the semis and the grand finale are all played on one blockbuster day. (weird, eh?) The four teams competing for the title were Essex (obviously), Worcestershire (defending champions), Derbyshire (first timers), and Nottinghamshire (winners in 2017). Semi-final 1 was a delicious game played between Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire, where the defending champions Worcester eked out a narrow one-run win. Parnell held his nerve and defended two runs off the last ball.
Semi-final 2 was between Essex and Derbyshire. Essex’s T20 skipper Simon Harmer had won the important toss and opted to bat first. Cameron Delport’s fiery 31-ball 55 powered Essex to a challenging score of 160 for 5. Chasing 161, Derbyshire’s innings never really took off and they were bundled out for a paltry 126 with skipper Harmer returning with career-best figures of 4 for 19 off his 4 overs.
The Big Final
Last years winners Worcestershire led by Moeen Ali were up against first-time finalists Essex. The toss was won by Simon Harmer (once again), but this time the South African elected to bowl first. The wicket looked like a slow one and assisted the spinners. Worcestershire managed to score a modest yet competitive total of 145 for 9. 146 wasn’t going to be easy and the Eagles batters knew that. They got off to a cautious yet solid start, but a few tough overs in the middle phrase rocked them hard. They were reduced to 82 for 5 and there was a long way to go. Veteran Ravi Bopara made sure he held one end, and his partner Paul Walter tried to hold the other end but fell when 17 were required off 8 deliveries. In walked the skipper Harmer, who till now had a dream day with the ball, but now his team needed his batting skills. First ball faced, and ka-boom, four runs down the ground. 13 off 7. Next ball, single to the skipper. Bopara off strike. 12 needed off the last over.
Maiden T20 Blast Winners
Like the first semi-final, Wayne Parnell was entrusted to ball the last over. Harmer was on strike while the well-set Bopara was at the non-strikers end.
19.1 – One run to Harmer. 11 needed off 5.
19.2 – One run to Bopara. 10 needed off 4.
19.3 – Two runs off the blade of the skip Harmer. 8 needed off just 3.
Tense faces in the Essex camp. And so was I, as I kept watching via Youtube.
19.4 – WHACK! Straight down the ground. Four valuable runs to Harmer. He could do no wrong today, it seemed. 4 needed off 2!
19.5 – In the gap, and two quick runs taken. Essex need just two runs off the final ball.
Now the good thing here was that in case of a tie, the team that lost fewer wickets would win. If only this rule was applicable at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, things would’ve turned out differently. Anyway, back to the T20 blast final.
It was deja vu for Wayne Parnell. The same situation was in front of him in the semis and he had held his nerve against Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett. But sports is a great leveler and it showed once again why you need sports to be a part of your life. The fielders were all called inside the 30-yard circle.
19.6 – Parnell delivered. Harmer swung his bat. The ball found the gap and the moment it did Simon Harmer and Ravi Bopara erupted in ecstasy and out ran all the Essex players.
They were officially the winners of the T20 Blast. First-time finalists turned into first-time winners. Essex fans were overjoyed, and so was I! It was a proud day to be an Eagles fan.
Thank you so much for reading! (: