Brown and Wright deal de­ci­sive blows

Cricket Vi­tal­ity Blast Fi­nals Day

The Observer - Sport - - Sport - Is­abelle West­bury

Moeen Ali put pro­mot­ing his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy to one side to help Worces­ter­shire Rapids’ can­ter into last night’s fi nal of the T20 Blast at the ex­pense of Lan­cashire Light­ning. The Worces­ter­shire cap­tain raced to 41 off 21 de­liv­er­ies as his Eng­land team­mate Jos But­tler, keep­ing for Lan­cashire, could only look on idly from be­hind the stumps.

“I’ve bowled at him plenty of times,” Moeen said in the buildup. “He’s hit me for many sixes in the nets but I’ve got him out many times too. I’ve got more of a chance be­cause I can bowl at him and he won’t be bowl­ing at me.”

So it proved. Af­ter Worces­ter­shire had set a chal­leng­ing to­tal of 169 with the help of a com­posed Ben Cox half- cen­tury, Lan­cashire started brightly, be­fore a stum­ble, and even­tual fall, 20 runs short of their tar­get. Moeen’s sec­ond ball was But­tler’s fi rst. It took six fur­ther Moeen de­liv­er­ies, a hand­ful of sin­gles and two re­verse sweeps be­fore But­tler had chopped on to his stumps for 12, bowled Moeen. Fancy dress is al­most manda­tory on Fi­nals Day and there was a wide range on dis­play: a lively group, one of whom was dressed as a bull, the rest as a troupe of tore­adors, were but one of many to be found run­ning mer­rily be­tween the stands. In­stead of the usual ren­di­tion of Sweet Caro­line how­ever ( the fi rst of which came half an hour be­fore play be­gan), they might have ac­com­pa­nied with the Tore­ador Song from Ge­orge Bizet’s Car­men. “Full of fury, he runs!” the ca­pac­ity crowd might have cried as Moeen bowled. “The arena is full, from top to bot­tom. The spec­ta­tors are los­ing their minds,” as Moeen ( left) re­turned fi gures of two for 16. It would not have been re­miss ac­com­pa­ny­ing Pat Brown’s bowl­ing ei­ther. Where most 20- year- olds here came dressed as their he­roes, the Worces­ter­shire seamer was be­com­ing one him­self. He be­gan the day as the Blast’s lead­ing wicket- taker and fi nished the semi- fi nal streak­ing ahead, his four for 21 boost­ing his tally to 31 wick­ets.

The game’s penul­ti­mate over , with Lan­cashire still very much in the game, was Brown’s best as he picked up three wick­ets at the ex­pense of one run.

The per­for­mance of leg- spin­ner Matthew Parkinson, whose two for 23 means he trails only Brown for tour­na­ment wick­ets, may be of some con­so­la­tion to Lan­cashire how­ever. “I think he is a good enough bowler to be play­ing higher than do­mes­tic cricket,” said a dis­ap­pointed Liam Liv­ing­stone . “Whether that comes this year or in fu­ture years I’m sure at some point he will play in­ter­na­tional cricket.”

In the day’s sec­ond semifi nal, Sus­sex, the book­ies’ over­all favourites, were left to wait be­fore tak­ing on Som­er­set. Like a coiled spring, how­ever, the de­lay only made their even­tual ar­rival more ex­plo­sive as their 202 runs proved 35 too many. A to­tal in ex­cess of 200 runs was reached in roughly one in 10 in­nings in this year’s Blast, so over­com­ing that tar­get on the Fi­nals Day stage was al­ways go­ing to be un­likely.

Ear­lier in the day, Luke Wright may have wor­ried that the big­gest cheer came not for any of his on- fi eld feats, but for ac­qui­esc­ing to the early chants of “we want our ball back” from the crowd, whose infl at­able wa­ter­melon had found its way over the bound­ary rope.

While the Sus­sex cap­tain oblig­ingly en­ter­tained on that oc­ca­sion, he did so a few hours later as well. His match- win­ning 92 con­tained seven sixes, two fewer than the fi rst semi- fi nal­ists could man­age be­tween them.

Wright was ably ac­com­pa­nied by a dash­ing half- cen­tury from David Wiese, who hit one of his 29 de­liv­er­ies into the fourth tier of the South Stand. None of Som­er­set’s bowl­ing fi gures were pretty, but Jamie Over­ton’s three overs go­ing for 50 runs made for par­tic­u­larly galling read­ing. In con­trast, a Chris Jordan maiden in the 17th over put a stop to a Som­er­set chase that briefl y threat­ened fol­low­ing a 32- ball 48 from Corey An­der­son.

Jos But­tler is bowled by his Eng­land team­mate Moeen Ali as Worces­ter­shire beat Lan­cashire at Edg­bas­ton

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