Harmer the hero leads Eagles to last-ball Blast glory

Brian Jeeves

Worcestershire Rapids v Essex Eagles – Vitality Blast final – Summary

Worcestershire Rapids 145/9 (20.0 overs)
Essex Eagles 148/6 (20.0 overs)
Essex Eagles won the toss and elected to bowl
Essex Eagles won by four wickets

SIMON HARMER inspired with the ball, then struck the winning runs off the final ball of a dramatic day as Essex Eagles capped their first Vitality Blast final with an incredible four-wicket victory over holders, Worcestershire Rapids.

Having climbed a mighty mountain simply in terms of qualification from the South Group, meeting defending champions, Worcestershire Rapids, in the showpiece Edgbaston final was the cricketing equivalent of ‘Roy of the Rovers stuff’ follow the Essex contingent amidst the sellout crowd.

However, there was to be a fairytale finish for the Eagles as they claimed the coveted trophy for the first time.

Dan Lawrence knocked over Hamish Rutherford with the third delivery of the match. A second-wicket stand of 56 between Moeen Ali and Riki Wessels carried the Rapids to calmer waters, however, Simon Harmer picked up where he had left off in the semi-final, brilliantly taking the catch of Ali off his own delivery – then trapping Ben Cox lbw off the next delivery.

Wessels continued to trouble Essex, before he was run out by the narrowest of margins – Paul Walter with the direct hit, leaving the right-hander stranded on 31.

Harmer was again the pick of the Essex bowlers with 3/16, while there were two apiece for Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence as the day neared its climax.

The Essex response began sluggishly and initially struggled to ignite. Delport departed cheaply, caught by Wessels off Wayne Parnell, while the Rapids attack ensured the powerplay failed to yield a bumper crop for the Eagles.

Adam Wheater’s disastrous reverse sweep off Daryl Mitchell put pay to the wicketkeeper/batsman, while Tom Westley became Parnell’s second victim as the required rate began to creep away from Essex.

Indeed, Worcestershire were seemingly controlling the contest. Skipper Moeen Ali claimed both Ryan ten Doeschate and Lawrence, leaving Essex floundering on 82/5.

It had taken Essex until the middle of the sixteenth over to reach three figures – Bopara tried to make a fist of things – a stand of 47 with Walter offering renewed hope as Essex reached the final over requiring 12 to win.

And an incredible turnaround was completed in dramatic fashion. Bopara’s unbeaten 36 had set the scene, but it was the captain – and subsequent man of the match – who steered Essex over the line, finishing with 18 off 7 balls, much to the anguish of the beleaguered Parnell who had been handed the responsibility of keeping the Essex revival at bay.

Essex now turn their attention back to the Specsavers County Championship Division One title race Monday, September 23-26 (10:30am) – where they travel to Taunton in the knowledge avoiding defeat against Somerset with hand them their eighth title in the long form of the game and complete a unique double.

Worcestershire Rapids: Riki Wessels, Hamish Rutherford, Moeen Ali (Capt), Wayne Parnell, Ben Cox (WK), Ross Whiteley, Ed Barnard, Brett D’Oliveira, Daryl Mitchell, Charlie Morris, Patrick Brown

Essex Eagles: Tom Westley, Cameron Delport, Adam Wheater (WK), Dan Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate, Ravi Bopara, Paul Walter, Simon Harmer (Capt), Aron Nijjar, Aaron Beard, Sam Cook

Umpires/Officials: David Millns, Alexander Wharf, Martin Saggers, Robert Baile

Essex Eagles – Vitality Blast winners 2019

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk