Essex Win Last Over Thriller
In front of a crowd of just over 10,000 on a fine Birmingham night, Essex scraped home by two wickets with a ball to spare and booked a return to Edgbaston for Finals Day in just over a week. They triumphed despite three run outs and owed much to a high class innings of 62 by Dan Lawrence, released by England to play in the match.
Essex could also look back on an accurate, disciplined bowling display and some good fielding. The Bears will lament that they could never quite dominate with the bat so that Essex, who were 22 ahead of the Bears after the power play, always kept their target within reach.
It was a thrilling match with many dramatic moments including one run out (of Simon Harmer) that involved a mid-wicket collision, another (Matt Critchley) where wicket-keeper Alex Davies had partly broken the stumps before the ball arrived and an out decision against Davies by the third umpire despite no spike on ultra-edge. And the match was decided with a six by Shane Snater off the penultimate ball.
Chasing 168 to win, Lawrence and Adam Rossington rattled up 43 in four overs before Rossington was run out. When Michael Pepper’s lively effort was cut short by Mousley and Feroze Khushi holed out on the boundary to Jake Lintott before scoring, Essex were having a slight wobble at 78-3. The stand of 38 in four overs between Lawrence and Paul Walter shifted the balance back to Essex.
Neither Matt Critchley nor Daniel Sams stayed long but Simon Harmer helped Lawrence add 25 valuable runs. When Lawrence was brilliantly caught by sub Ethan Brookes off Dominic Drakes in the 19th over and then Harmer was run out, just six were needed off the last over bowled by Olly Hannon-Dalby. That had been reduced to four when Snater struck a magnificent straight six of the fifth ball to take Essex home.
Although the Bears’ 167-7 was not far from a par total, they could not quite get on top of an eight bowler Essex attack that was backed up by excellent ground fielding and secure catching. The stand out men were Sam Cook who took 2-24 off his four overs and Simon Harmer who skilfully varied his flight and pace and took 1-20.
The three batting young guns for the Bears, Rob Yates, Dan Mousley and Jacob Bethell, only managed 20 runs between them; and not for the first time, Aussie star Gavin Maxwell burned brightly but too briefly, not quite reaching the Hollies with a big hit, to be caught by fellow Aussie Daniel Sams.
Dan Lawrence had only bowled three overs in the competition until this evening and has a contorted run that up suggests that he is trying to dislodge a wasp that has crawled down his back. Never mind, Dan Mousley contrived to get out to him.
Sam Hain, who came into the game with an average north of 100, played some classy shots all round the wicket. When he reached 50 off 33 balls he looked poised to accelerate but then sliced a wide ball from Sam Cook to short third man.
Dominic Drakes and Chris Benjamin did their best to give some late impetus to the innings before the latter was out to the last ball of the 20th over. Who knows, had Benjamin hit that last ball for six, that might just have been enough to foil Essex. As it is, they were narrow but worthy winners and will now contest Finals Day.