After a summer that has seen the Hundred launched, the Vitality Blast got its annual day in the cricket spotlight with Finals Day taking place at Edgbaston on Saturday. Following a behind closed doors conclusion to last year’s tournament, which also saw rain push the event into a reserve day for the first time, 25,000 spectators brought the colour and noise that has become so associated with the day.
Hampshire, Somerset, Kent & Sussex battled it out in an all Southern Finals Day that saw Kent emerge triumphant.
It has been a challenging year for the Blast, with the entire group stage played before England’s Covid restrictions were eased. That meant that only the quarter finals saw crowds return in significant numbers, but it has still produced some thrilling cricket.
Here is our top team from this year’s tournament:
1. Josh Inglis (Leicestershire)
The leading run scorer in this season’s tournament, with 531 runs at a strike rate of just over 175. It was a disappointing campaign for the Foxes, who failed to build on their quarter final appearance last season, but Inglis was outstanding opening the batting. He made two centuries, with his 118* in the final group game against Worcestershire denying the Rapids a place in the quarter finals.
2. Joe Clarke (Notts)
This spot could easily have gone to Clarke’s opening partner Alex Hales but the former Worcestershire man’s higher strike rate gets him the nod. He has become one of the most consistent opening batsman in the Blast and enjoyed another stellar season, with his 136 against Northants being the highest score of the tournament so far.
3. Harry Brook (Yorkshire)
It has been a breakout season for the 22-year old who will surely play international cricket at some point in his career. He was named Man of the Match in the Roses clash at Headingley, where his unbeaten 91 from 50 balls was the decisive innings for his side.
4. James Vince (Hampshire)
Hampshire’s late charge to qualify from the South Group was built around the form of Vince, who really clicked in the second half of the group stage. He made 63 and 102 in crucial victories against Essex & Sussex and also captained his side expertly in the quarter final victory over Notts.
5. Jordan Cox (Kent, wk)
Given that Kent suffered a Covid outbreak midway through the group stage, the fact that they finished top of the South Group was a remarkable achievement. It was the performances of youngsters such as Cox that has seen them through to a first Finals Day since 2009. He looks a classy batsman and kept wicket very well in the absence of Sam Billings.
6. Jack Leaning (Kent)
Leaning has established himself as a key all rounder in this Kent side. He picked up two Man of the Match awards in the group stage: one for his batting against Gloucestershire and one for bowling against Essex. He also ended with impressive figures of 2-7 in 2 overs in the quarter final win against Birmingham.
7. Tom Lammonby (Somerset)
Somerset suffered a heartbreaking exit to last year’s tournament in the last group game, but they have put that right in 2021. Lammonby played two crucial innings in their run up to Edgbaston: a sparkling 90 from 36 balls against Gloucestershire saw Somerset qualify and he was there at the end in the quarter final against Lancashire when he made 47*.
8. Calvin Harrison (Notts)
It has been a good year for spinners in the Blast, with Harrison leading the way with 20 wickets. His most eye catching performance came against Birmingham where he took 4-17 including a triple wicket maiden as Notts dismissed the Bears for just 63.
9. Jake Lintott (Birmingham)
What a summer it has been for the left arm leg spinner, who was a key reason as to why the Bears qualified for the quarter finals. He has since earned himself a CPL contract and a winner’s medal in the Hundred. His Blast figures saw him take 15 wickets at an average of 20 with his best being 4-20 against Northants.
10. Brad Wheal (Hampshire)
Following his performances in both the Blast and the Hundred, Wheal is quickly becoming one of the best death bowlers on the county circuit. His spell of 2-24 was crucial in swinging the quarter final against Notts, the Hawks’ way.
11. Tymal Mills (Sussex)
There were plenty of smiles when Mills was announced in England’s squad for next month’s World T20 – his performances in the Blast have certainly merited it. Despite Sussex suffering a number of washouts in the group phase, Mills took 14 wickets in the 8 games he played, and took another 3 against Kent at Edgbaston on Finals Day.