Essex triumph by four wickets in dramatic T20 Blast final as Simon Harmer holds his nerve to hit the winning runs off the final ball
Essex captain Simon Harmer was dreaming of the domestic 'double' on Saturday night after inspiring his county to dramatic first T20 Blast triumph.
Harmer held his nerve to hit the winnings runs off the last ball of the game from Wayne Parnell as Eagles edged home by four wickets to win a tense and thrilling Final.
He had already starred with the ball with 3-16 in restricting Worcestershire Rapids to 145-9 off their 20 overs in the Final. He was aided and abetted by the ice cool Ravi Bopara (36 not out) at the death of Essex's innings to ruin Rapids bid to defend their title.
Essex Eagles came out on top in a dramatic T20 Blast final against Worcestershire Rapids
The Essex team celebrate after hitting the winning runs off the final ball of their innings
it was fifth time lucky for Eagles who had lost their previous four semi-finals and Harmer insisted: 'This is a very proud moment for me and the whole team. We've been through a lot together and to be there at the end to get it done with Ravi was special. He has been a super star for Essex for so long.
'It didn't look good when we started losing wickets and the run rate was rising but you can never write off this team. We will enjoy this moment and it would be extra special if the guys can also complete that double in the Championship in the coming week.'
Bopara, whose arrival at the crease turned the game around the Eagles, admitted: 'This is one of my proudest moments with the club. To win it for the first time is fantastic. We've often got to Finals Day and then gone home early around 2pm after losing in the semis. So to get the trophy in our hands is so special.'
Essex captain Simon Harmer is now dreaming of the domestic 'double' after the T20 triumph
Essex have a crucial Championship match of the season against title rivals Somerset at Taunton twelve points ahead and in pole position to lift that piece of silverware for the second time in three seasons.
Rapids, who pulled off a miraculous one-run semi-final victory over Notts Outlaws earlier, appeared to have complete control of a game played on a turning pitch. They batted first and lost opener Hamish Rutherford to spinner Dan Lawrence's third ball.
Ali and Riki Wessels moved along to 61 before Harmer brought himself on and struck two quick blows for his side. He took a superb caught and bowled to remove Ali for 32. He trapped Ben Cox lbw next ball. Wayne Parnell defied the hat-trick bid and smashed but became Harmer's third wicket when dismissed lbw for 19. Wessels was run out for 31 but Rapids still made a competitive 145-9.
Worcestershire looked to be on top after getting a slew of wickets but Essex held strong
Essex slumped from 47-1 to 82-5 and lost Tom Westley for 36 and the run rate crept worryingly higher and higher as Rapids bowlers, including Ali, applied the stranglehold.
The vastly experienced former England man Bopara, known as one of the best finishers in the short-game, kept his calm. He lost partner Paul Walter bowled by Pat Brown but all was not lost.
Harmer smashed a boundary straight down the ground and Essex needed twelve off the last over and then when Harmer hit Parnell for another four Eagles required one run to tie and win by losing least amount of wickets.
All the Rapids fielders came in close to try and stop the single but Harmer squeeze the ball to the boundary setting off huge celebrations on the ground.