Vitality Blast Finals Day by Sam Dalling
He was there until he wasn’t. Harry Everett – friend and colleague on the Club’s live stream – and I had taken up seats in the blocks allocated to Somerset supporters. We were surrounded. The Abell clan; Andy Hurry’s partner; Polly Rhodes’s husband; Lewis Gregory’s grandparents; and a gaggle of office staff who were, shall we say, merry.
An hour prior, worried glances were being shared. Adam Rossington was tucking into a small-ish total, and the required run-rate was sinking rapidly. Not again. Not this time. Please.
But now, with Somerset on silverware’s cusp, the mood was giddy. And then came TKC’s outstretched paw. Young Everett was gone, out of sight, rows of seats hurdled with Olympic-level competence. It was life affirming, pure liquid joy. Eyes watered and the hugs exchanged brimmed with meaning.
In the excitement, we had collectively lost sight of just how finely the Final was balanced. A couple of inches finer, maybe even just one, and Daniel Sams’s stroke was boundary bound. That though, did not register until the following day. The moment, the winning instant, you see, was one each of us in that small pocket of Birmingham had been manifesting for almost two decades.
2005 was a lifetime back, and the interim brought deep incision after deep incision. You can stitch wounds back together, pretend that time heals, but the only satisfactory ointment is victory. For players, coaches, staff, and supporters alike, Lou-Lou (as he is referred to by his great pal Tom Abell) lifting that trophy represented not just success, but closure too.
Foolishly I had agreed to work the day, and, because of their volume, the Sunday papers hit the printers much earlier than any other edition. My deadline came and passed with about three overs remaining. The smidgen of objectivity left in me had by then realised that all outcomes remained possible. Between balls, I furiously scribbled alternative introductions, and was secretly chuffed with my opening had the unthinkable happened. For once though, the so often sapping ‘select all – delete’ process caused no pain.
Finals Days are marathons. 120 overs is a lot of cricket, although most had, given the forecast, arrived assuming they would see little play. Fortunately, the interruptions were minimal – it would have been a shame for the players to have fought for honours in front of a bit-part crowd.
Having watched Essex defeat Hampshire (phew, no Nathan Ellis to negotiate) it was Somerset’s turn. Surrey were sans Sunil Narine. To no-one’s great surprise, the West Indian decided against travelling back from the US after all. Given he went at steady 11.6s in the two group games, our lads were probably a tad disappointed.
The 142 for seven Somerset made, having been put in, felt a little light. There were plenty of starts but nothing substantial until Sean Dickson played his hand. A monumental effort was required, then? Yes, but this team oozes belief and, through a delicious cocktail of skill and will, they won comfortably.
My highlight was Craig Overton helping dismiss his brother. My better half and I were on the Warwickshire Members’ balcony and when Jamie skied one, we rocked forward. Craig caught it. Of course Craig caught it – he catches everything. We leapt up and will insist, until the day we die, that our Overton glanced up and celebrated with us. Perhaps he did. Probably he didn’t. But that won’t stop us telling the tale.
The showpiece match began soon after. That is probably a positive if you’re a player pumped full of adrenaline. Again though, the hitters – of whom Somerset have plenty – couldn’t get going. That’s no criticism of them; each had been brilliant throughout the tournament. A pair of Toms – Banton and Kohler-Cadmore – plus Will Smeed had endangered many a spectator with their curious blend of power and placement.
And so, for the second time in the day, Sean Dickson made the telling contribution with the bat, before the bowlers did their thing. Matt Henry; what a signing. And to think Kent (allegedly) weren’t keen on offering him a T20 deal. He was quite simply outstanding. They all were. Each of them deserves a name check, each of them contributed at one point or other.
The best team does not always win. But sometimes, just sometimes, it does.
Freelance journalist, Sam Dalling is a regular contributor to The Telegraph and The Cricketer amongst others. He is also part of our award winning live stream commentary team