Rapids finally end wait for finals day
CRICKET: Worcestershire ended 15 years of T20 heartache after beating Gloucestershire by five wickets in a tense, lowscoring Vitality Blast quarterfinal at New Road.
After five defeats at the knockout stage, the Rapids will make their first appearance on Finals Day at Edgbaston on September 15, leaving Derbyshire as the only county not to have featured in the T20 showpiece.
Callum Ferguson, with the only half-century of the match, steered the hosts through a nervy start and reached an unbeaten 64 from 47 balls as Worcestershire overhauled Gloucestershire’s 136-8 with eight balls to spare.
What was a comfortable margin in the end was not looking likely when three Gloucestershire seamers each took a wicket in their first over.
Moeen Ali was leg-before to Matt Taylor’s first ball, Joe Clarke holed out to mid-wicket from AJ Tye’s fourth delivery and Brett D’Oliveira found midwicket from Benny Howell’s second.
Worcestershire had one more wobble when Ben Cox chipped Howell to mid-wicket, but Ross Whiteley (20) helped release the pressure in a 52-run partnership.
In the crucial 16th over bowled by David Payne, Whiteley hit two sixes and the total was topped up by two wides and two no-balls until the left-hander was caught at deep cover from what was the 10th delivery.
Ferguson then ensured there were no late wobble.
Gloucestershire’s batting was distinctly top heavy, the disparity being such that the first three in the order, Miles Hammond (45), Michael Klinger (24) and Ian Cockbain (35), were responsible for more than three-quarters of the total.
As soon as Worcestershire took pace off the ball, five wickets were shared by D’Oliveira, the leg-spinner recording his competition-best of 4-26, and Daryl Mitchell, with his underrated cutters causing problems in a spell of 1-15.
Yet Gloucestershire had promised so much against the quicker bowlers. Hammond looked set for a second 50 in the competition as his clean striking brought five fours and two sixes, until he was tempted into an unnecessary risk when opting for the reverse sweep and falling lbw to Mitchell.
From there it quickly became a procession. Klinger picked out Barnard in D’Oliveira’s first over and in no time half the side had gone for 97.