Friends Provident T20 Finals Day
Hampshire v Essex
Nottinghamshire v Somerset
Hampshire v Somerset
This is my humble attempt to find appropriate words for my perception of the FP T20 Finals Day, a bubbly fountain of joy for all those that love romantic surprises, and bitter disappointment for everyone who likes to cheer for the favourites.
Somerset i.e. Kieswetter
Somerset really made me go schizo last night. First I lost it in a full-blown happyfit when they D/L-ed Notts out of the competition and, despite yet another Kiesfail and a severe middle order collapse, found an anchor in Jos Buttler, whose 55 not out combined with the brutal 60 off 28 Trescothick hammered at the start were enough for them to secure their spot in my personal dream final... only to annoy the good out of me when said Craig Kieswetter found his form back just in the final clash against Hamps, and knitted a patient and well-pondered 71 of 59, by which he paradoxically managed to make me go grrr at him while he was actually scoring! Of course now that Hants have won all grump has gone and I am happy about his good effort. Keep marching Kies! Yeah I may be a bit protective about him now but that's because all rats have left the sinking Kieswagon and somebody has to stick to him *g* Of course he was rather crap behind the stumps but I hope that Jos Buttler will not threaten him yet but it might happen pretty soon, so it would be particularly important that he starts to shine with the bat again. Go Kies!
|Most versatile surname in cricket: Craig He'sbetter (but Keepcrapper) (c) Getty Images|
Broad (!)/ Swann (!)/ Sidebottom and Dussey / Nannes under one and the same blanket? Sorry, dudes and dudettes, but I hate anchovies on my apple tart! Means Nothinghamshire to me really.
Pitifully not Sussex. Therefore, I don't even have the faintest of memories of their appearance. Oh yeah there was an annoying guy called Pettini batting for them. And Alastair Cook, a man like a bar of yuckily mint-flavoured chocolate, made a scratchy 38, for which he is now being praised as the big come back kid... wth??? And Dwayne Bravo failed over the whole distance but couldn't get bothered to bother.
Hampshire are awesome. Apart from the players to who I dedicated the extra odes below I would like to praise the blond trinity in the shape of Jimmy Adams, Danny Briggs and the eternal Dominic Cork. Jimmy made 34 in both matches, how weird, but these were essential runs! His wicket is always the most agonising of moments, in which you think why oh why??? But even if he made 150 in each match you would still beg him to stay. Such is the Adams. Yes, after resisting the Adams cult for half an eternity I'm a nearly fully-fledged convert now.
|Jimmy Adams - the most agonising of all Hampshire wickets, always (c) Getty Images|
Briggs and Cork on the other hand had blown me out of the socks right from the start. Their consistency is doing my bloody head in. While in the case of Cork you could argue that his penetrating power is based on a combination of experience, outstanding leadership qualities, skill and extraordinary fitness Briggs is only 19!!! But he delivers time and time again, a genuine wicket taker with an utterly reliable low economy. In the semi he took 3-29 and in the final 1-30 and Cork tends to bowl him out very early to get hold of the wickets. Cork himself, who I usually just call "Corker", is a phenomenon. You could put a concrete block in front of his nose and he would get his teeth right in (Kieron Pollard will confirm). Please Corky if you read this: Sign it. SIGN IT!
Last but not least: Abdul Razzaq!! Not bad brother, not bad! Stepped up utterly with bat and ball, my eyes fell out! We all know the great potential slumbering inside our favourite troglodytic allrounder, but on Finals Day he burst open like a flower on a beautiful morning! Let numbers speak: his 4 overs at 5.57 put Essex under enormous pressure, what a tidy spell that was! He went on to score 44 off 31 and thus gave Hants a super start into their innings. In the final he took 2-37, removed the extremely dangerous Trescothick before the Somerset boss could start to batter anyone, and later on he took Hildreth out and scored 33 off 19. What a lovely player!!
|Abdul Razzaq: like a flower in the morning *g* (c) Getty Images|
Slug couldn't bowl because of his back injury but his job on that night was a completely different one! His quickie-sort-of cameo in the first semi final, in which he smashed a four and a six off Dwayne Bravo, provided Hamps with the kick in the arse they really needed at that time, it was like an injection of pure SlugPower into the innings and laid the foundation for Carberry's and McKenzie's muscular finishing moves. But his big time in the limelight was yet to come in the grand final!
SuperSlug pt 1: "Briggs to Trego, OUT, what a catch by Sean Ervine! Plucked out of the air one-handed at long-off, and Trego departs! Ervine had actually mis-judged the effort, charging in from the rope as Trego lofted an inside-out drive towards long-off. As the ball neared him he realised his error, checking his run and putting his hand up to grab onto the ball. Big wicket" (Cricinfo). He was laughing and smiling blissfully all over his face and it was so great to see him starring in such a crucial match situation.
SuperSlug pt 2: SM Ervine 44* (31b 7x4). It's been a while since he has played such an innings in the FP T20, but in the final he clicked and all was good! While at the other end Mac and Carberry went out he managed to survive and somehow steal the victory from Somerset in a bizarre but successful collaboration with his bud Dan Christian. Does he have nerves like ropes, or was it his dopiness which the Hamps fans love about him so much? I think both :D
|Good Slug = Happy Slug = Good Slug. (c) Getty Images|
DC finds it really hard to make his way into the hearts of the cricket fans but Hamps for some reason have always played him and showed faith in him and often he contributed just that one crucial boundary or wicket that Hants needed in the respective circumstances. Although I am certainly not one of his greatest admirers we have to be grateful to Hampshire for giving him such a lot of match practice ahead of the Champions League T20, it will surely boost his confidence and increase his value for the Redbacks. I will be really sad when DC departs from Hampshire, which might actually happen immediately because I think he won't play a lot of matches for them anymore before the start of the CLT20. I hope they'll book him again next year, would be cool to see him in the colours of the Hamps Pamps once more. It took a sacrifice of epic proportions to convince me of his worthiness but I think he might have become one of my favourite Redbacks with this continuous display of gutsiness and dedication.
|Clumsy Bumps gave his life for Hampsy Pamps - well done DC! (c) Getty Images|
Back to the final, DC's face looked like a rotten potato, if you know what I mean; he might not be a cricketing genius but he really gave everything for Hampshire; his house, his sanity, his life; he got nastily smashed in the gob in the previous CC match and bled from several wounds (that was the snuff movie in which also Lumb's foot was broken and Cork and Ervine sustained back injures) and now he pulled a hamstring scampering through for the second run from the penultimate ball. That was the moment when I absolutely lost it. Not only came Jimmy Adams out as a runner... but also a guy with a paint bucket, who in all his sweet time started to paint the crease. WTF?????????????? I was standing in front of the screen, fretting, fuming, and armed to my teeth with chairs, fridges and trains. He only just buggered off in time to save his life! The last ball was bowled and DC had a complete blackout and ran!!! Luckily fortune favours the bold and Somerset appealed in vain for LBW instead of running him out!!!! Later on in the interview, in which his battered face was beaming like an atomic pile, he admitted he had completely forgotten about his injury and the runner and just dashed off instinctively. Oh man!!! The match was tied and Hampshire won by fewer wickets lost!!! Does the modus operandi matter? NO!
|(c) LMI Photography|
Some more material you might be interested in:
half-tracker's epic blog
is out, a view on Finals Day from the world's greatest Hampsman
Corky the legend
an epic tribute by Greyblazer
with some analysis and live recordings from the ground incl. a completely mental audio recording of the whole final over
That's all from me for now, I hope you've enjoyed Finals Day as much as I did, I can't think of any better winner than Hants, and what sweetens the taste of this victory additionally is that Hampshire's much criticised decision not to select certain alleged star players and instead to reward those that had taken the team to the finals paid off so wonderfully, while other sides, who opted to put their fate in the hands of well-paid popular mercenaries, had to leave the Rose Bowl with empty hands.
Haters gonna hate...