Crook Guns Down Eagles

Steven Crook (right) and Cameron White celebrate their match-winning partnership.
©Action Images / Andrew Boyers Livepic

Northamptonshire 171-3 (Crook 46no) beat
Essex 168-5 (Napier 38no) by 7 wickets
First Friends Life t20 Semi-Final

The forecast rain stayed away from Edgbaston to allow a full-length first semi-final in this season’s Friends Life t20. It was a thrilling affair which was won by a Steven Crook-inspired Northamptonshire.

Essex looked to have posted enough after being asked to bat and notching up 168 for five. They lost opener Greg Smith in Crook’s first over, but Hamish Rutherford was dropped by Cameron White off the third ball of the innings and went onto blast 36 off only 19 balls. There was then a useful knock of 27 from Mark Pettini, before the Eagles threatened to lose their way, slipping to 114 for five.

However, Graham Napier made the most of another dropped catch to plunder 38 off just 15 balls and helped Essex take 54 runs off the 26 balls following Ryan ten Doeschate’s departure in the 16th over.

Richard Levi then continued what has been an excellent competition for him personally by smashing 57 off 35 balls in the first half of the Steelbacks’ run chase. He shared 74 with Kyle Coetzer (18 off 19 balls) for the first-wicket, but they both fell and were also joined by skipper Alex Wakely to leave Northants tottering on 93 for three in the 13th over.

With the required run rate threatening to get out of hand, enter the man who has enjoyed a season so spectacular as to be almost unbelievable since re-joining the club from Middlesex over the winter. Steven Crook has excelled with bat and ball in all forms of the game in 2013, none more so than in this tournament. Today, he smacked an unbeaten 46 off only 24 balls, hitting four sixes and relegating the normally dominant Cameron White to a supporting role during their match-winning unbroken partnership of 78 in 35 balls.

White ended on a none-too-shoddy 36 not out off 25 balls, but it was the man hailed as the “Northants Botham” by his skipper Alex Wakely who rightly took the plaudits.

“He can’t do anything wrong at the moment and long may that continue,” said Wakely. “I’m really pleased it’s happened on the big stage because the season he’s had so far has been fantastic.

“He’s been outstanding for us. The talk of the town in Northampton is he is the Northampton Botham at the moment. In all forms of cricket he’s playing brilliantly for us.”

© Cricket World 2013