T20 Finals Day: Three talking points as Bears finish top of the pile
T20 Finals Day: Three talking points as Bears beat Lancashire by four runs to win an exciting T20 Blast final
Flintoff factor can’t save Lancashire as the Lightning fall short
Having blown Hampshire away in the semi-final, Lancashire looked good to go on and win the trophy, and with the excitement about Andrew Flintoff’s return to the side, the lightning were looking to ride the momentum to a first T20 crown. Flintoff unsurprisingly made an impact, initially with the ball to get former team-mate Ian Bell with his first delivery in the third over, before launching successive sixes into the crowd in a last-ditch attempt to get his side over the line. He couldn’t get back on strike and they fell marginally short and the fairy tale wasn’t quite completed. The wait for Lancs’ first T20 crown goes on but they will know they are not far off being a serious force in the shortest format. One thing is for sure, the match was richer for his inclusion and it proved to be a memorable final.
Bears make home advantage to take maiden title
There is always an extra ounce of pressure when you are in a tournament and your home ground is hosting the final. It’s the same whether it is the Champions League in football or Heineken Cup in rugby, you want to be there in the final in front of your home support. Under the weight of expectation, the newly branded Birmingham Bears stepped up to the plate, first demolishing Surrey with the bat, William Porterfield in particular starring with a quick-fire half century. Then to the final, where they tamed a Lancashire batting line-up featuring England stars past and present, as well as household names in limited-overs cricket around the world. While the romantics may have favoured Lancashire, there is no doubting the best all-round side on the day were the Bears and they thoroughly deserved their success.
T20 Veterans fluff their lines in surprising turn of events
Going into the semi-final you had two previous winners and two sides that had never won the trophy split nicely into each match. Hampshire, who are three times winners, and Surrey, who won the inaugural tournament, would have backed themselves to make the final having done it before but both were felled by sides who threw the history book out the window and played on current form alone. Hampshire did well to restrict Lancs to 160 on a very good track only to be skittled for just over 100. Surrey struggled to cope with Porterfield but made a good start to their chase until their heads fell off in the second half of the innings. It is great to see the number of sides capable of achieving in this format domestically, because it is easy to forget Nottinghamshire missed out on finals day but were perhaps the form team going into the quarters. Twenty20 is going from strength to strength and players are adapting amazingly well to the format. While the purists will always reject its legitimacy, there is no doubting that finals day has its place.