Brown and Wright deal decisive blows
Cricket Vitality Blast Finals Day
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