Vitality Blast 2023 - Finals Day - Scores, Match Reports and Reactions
Here are the Vitality Blast 2023 Finals Day Match Reports, Results, Scorecards and Reactions for all the matches being played today.
Final - Somerset v Essex
Somerset became Vitality Blast champions for only the second time after beating Essex by 14 runs in a captivating final at Edgbaston.
For the second time in the day, the westcountrymen skilfully defended a smallish total. Composed bowling and brilliant fielding saw them see off their south group rivals and deservedly clinch the trophy.
Put in, Somerset were restricted to 145 all out as Shane Snater harvested 4-1-13-3 (including that T20 gold, a wicket maiden in the powerplay) and Paul Walter three for 29. Just as in the semi-final against Surrey earlier in the day, Lewis Gregory’s side was indebted to Sean Dickson for shoring up a creaking innings. His 53 (35 balls) ensured a testing target on a pitch on which fluent batting was never easy.
Essex’s top order was then ravaged by a burst of three for six in seven balls by Matt Henry as a promising 27 without loss became a ruinous 55 for five. There was no way back from there as they finished on 131 all out, Henry’s early menace (four for 24) being match at the other end of the innings by Ish Sodhi (three for 22).
It was superb T20 cricket from Somerset and nobody can deny their right to be 2023 champions having won a remarkable 15 of their 17 games in the tournament.
Somerset launched their innings perkily with 17 from two overs before Snater started with a maiden including the wicket of Will Sneed, who played on. When Tom Banton reverse-swept to short third man, Snater’s figures were two for none from eight balls.
As Somerset continued to stutter, Tom Kohler-Cadmore tried to cut a ball too far up to him and was bowled by Matt Critchley and Tom Abell chipped Paul Walter to mid on. Dickson and Lewis Gregory added 45, without ever fully escaping the shackles, before Snater returned to oust Gregory via a return catch.
Craig Overton’s departure, run out by Aaron Beard’s direct hit from deep square, heightened the feeling that this was Essex’s day. Dickson equalled his T20 best before gloving Paul Walter behind.
Essex’s reply was violently launched by Adan Rossington who thumped four fours in a nine-ball 19 before smashing Henry to cover where Kasey Aldridge took a stinging catch with aristocratic aplomb. That triggered a massive swing as Henry followed up with two huge wickets as Michael Pepper was bowled and Dan Lawrence lbw, playing across the line. When Robin Das lifted Craig Overton to mid on, four wickets had fallen for 17 runs in 16 balls.
Gregory inflicted further damage by trapping Critchley lbw which left Essex’s hopes sitting squarely on the burly shoulders of 6ft 7in Walter. He stirred those hopes by moving to 26 from 24 balls but then attempted to add six more from Sodhi’s third delivery and his bails flew.
Essex needed 50 from seven overs with just the lower order left. They bat deep, but that was a challenge too far as Gregory induced a fatal edge from Harmer and Sodhi spun one on to Snater’s middle stump. Daniel Sams (45, 26 balls) jangled a Somerset nerve or two but when he fell to a brilliant catch at short third man by Kohler-Cadmore the fireworks were unleashed and the cider could start to flow.
Somerset bowler Ish Sodhi said:
"Blast Finals Day is a unique day with unique demands and I think it was a phenomenal effort from the guys today. We showed great adaptability with the bat to set targets that were just above par and then the guys bowled brilliantly.
"Craig Overton and Matt Henry at the top of the bowling have been phenomenal all through the tournament and they were again today. Rossington came out all guns blazing and we weren't defending the biggest target so really needed to get amongst the wickets and we did. Essex played some very aggressive cricket and it was taking those wickets that was decisive.
"I'm delighted to be taking a medal home. I haven't been part of the group that long, just three and a half weeks, but everyone was so welcoming that it made it really easy to settle and express myself on the field.
"That brilliant catch from Tom Kohler-Cadmore to seal the trophy will be replayed again and again, I'm sure. It is one of the most exciting moments of my career."
Essex captain Simon Harmer said:
"Hats off to Somerset, they were the better team tonight. I can't fault the way our guys went about it and I'm extremely proud of how they have played all through this tournament.
"It's easy to look back and say we should have just worked the ball around chasing a small target but if we'd got ahead in the powerplay we would have been in a strong position.
"Daniel Sams batted fantastically and just needed someone to stay with him. While he was there, we definitely had belief because he has had an unbelievable tournament and if anyone could have pulled that off it was him, but we just needed a couple more wickets in hand.
"It was a lot to ask of Sam Cook to stay around while 30 runs were scored. Daniel showed his class but it was not to be our day."
Semi - Final 2 - Somerset v Surrey
Somerset will face Essex in the Vitality Blast final this evening after completing a steel-nerved 24-run semi-final victory over Surrey at Edgbaston.
Lewis Gregory’s side amassed a record points tally in the 2023 group stage and carried that confidence into a powerful performance to end Surrey’s hopes of winning the Blast for the first time since the tournament’s inaugural year, 2003.
In a 19-overs-per-side contest, Somerset made 142 for seven against accurate bowling led by Sean Abbott (four for 23). Only one partnership passed 25 and only one batter reached 30 - Sean Dickson, whose unbeaten 30 (22 balls) was eked out in the closing overs with only the lower order for company.
Dickson’s diligent knock proved priceless as Surrey’s much-vaunted batting line mustered only 118 all out. That included a highest score of just 22 from Tom Curran as Matt Henry took three for 19, Craig Overton three for 24 and Ben Green, leading wicket-taker in this year’s Blast, three for 25.
Somerset were given their customary brisk start by Will Smeed (21, 17 balls) and Tom Banton (26, 20) but neither got beyond the cameo stage, falling to faint edges to wicketkeeper Jamie Smith, initially adjudged not out but overturned on review.
That set the tone for an innings of bit-part contributions with no lead role. The batters lost further momentum as Tom Kohler-Cadmore sliced Abbott to third man and Tom Abell, hampered by a flurry of heavy drizzle which was creditably played through, missed a slog at Sam Curran and was bowled.
Two straightforward catches under his belt, Smith added a blinder when he dived high to his right to clutch Lewis Gregory’s edge off Chris Jordan. Abbott then delivered two wickets in five balls when Ben Green skied a return catch and Craig Overton fell to another fine catch, by Tom Curran diving low at short third man.
Dickson had to be mindful of his side having so few wickets in hand in the closing overs, but batted with intelligence to keep his team in the game.
Surrey’s reply started badly, when Laurie Evans was bowled by Overton’s fourth ball, and then deteriorated. Jason Roy was adroitly caught by Dickson under a skier at extra cover and Will Jacks lifted Overton to long leg.
It was a wobbly 38 for three when Ben Green, leading wicket taker in this season‘s Blast, came on and 38 for four after Sam Curran chipped Green’s first ball to mid off.
Smith holed out to long on, as did Jamie Overton, caught by his twin brother Craig. Having taken the catch, Overton C. turned to Somerset’s dressing room with a double clenched-fist salute – Surrey were 68 for six and in deep trouble.
Jordan cleared the ropes twice but perished attempting to land a third in the crowd, caught by Smeed at deep mid-wicket. Somerset’s catching was exemplary and when Tom Curran’s 15-ball 22 was terminated by another safe boundary take, by Abell, Surrey’s last two wickets needed to find 40 runs.
Green added his third wicket, Cameron Steel, caught behind and when Abbot heaved Henry to deep mid-wicket, Somerset were through with 33 minutes to prepare for the final.
Semi - Final 1 - Essex v Hampshire
Essex continued to make Edgbaston a happy home as they reached the Vitality Blast final with a thrilling five-wicket (D/L) semi-final win over Hampshire.
Eight days after beating the Bears in Birmingham in the quarter-finals, Simon Harmer’s side chased down a D/L target if 115 from 12 overs with three balls to spare to wreck Hampshire’s hopes of becoming the first team ever to retain the Blast trophy.
Put in, Hampshire totalled 170 for seven from their full 20 overs thanks to Joe Weatherley’s composed unbeaten 63 (39 balls) against an attack skilfully led by Matt Critchley (4-0-22-2) and Shane Snater (3-0-15-1).
Rain then interrupted Essex’s reply at 19 for one from 2.5 overs and, faced with the new target, they were set back by the loss of three wickets in six balls soon after the resumption.
They rallied brilliantly, though, and requiring 13 from the last six balls, needed just three of them as Matt Critchley and Harmer each clubbed Nathan Ellis for six.
Hampshire were delighted that Ben McDermott, injured for the quarter-final, was passed fit and he gave them a thunderous launch with 29 from 12 balls, including five fours and a six. That lifted his side to 39 from just 17 balls but Essex struck back with two huge wickets in five balls. McDermott swiped Sam Cook to long leg and James Vince, top batter in this season’s Blast with 638 runs, lifted Snater to mid off having added just 13 to his tally.
Essex’s spinners accelerated the pendulum swing as Critchley trapped Tom Prest lbw and Harmer drew a skied drive from Liam Dawson which was well-taken by Critchley running back from extra cover. The clatter meant Weatherley and James Fuller had to retrench rather then unload and their 32 stand occupied 29 balls before the latter lifted Critchley to long on.
The unloading had to come eventually though and it came late as Weatherley, having reached his sixth T20 half-century, from 34 balls. and Benny Howell (22, ten balls) thrashed 40 from the last 19 balls.
Weatherley was then immediately in the action in the field, taking a brilliant catch on the run at deep fine leg to oust Adam Rossington from the second ball of the innings.
After the rain break, Hampshire took command when Fuller struck twice in his first five balls as Michael Pepper skied to third man and Dan Lawrence nicked an attempted pull. When John Turner pinned Walter lbw, Essex were under serious pressure at 50 for four.
Daniel Sams (29, 17 balls) bludgeoned Essex back into the hunt with a couple of sixes and, with 28 needed from three overs, it was anybody’s game. Sams socked another six, off countryman Ellis, but was then coolly taken by Ross Whiteley on the cover boundary.
It came down to 13 off the last over and Critchley heaved Ellis straight for six before Harmer emulated the blow to send Essex into the final.
Essex captain Simon Harmer said:
"Matt Critchley batted superbly and the six off the first ball of the last over really took the pressure off. When I went down to face I just took a risk and banked on him bowling a slower ball and luckily he did and I connected.
"We had our slowest start of the comp with the bat but felt we were in the mix after the rain break, chasing a smallish total. Then we lost some wickets which set us back but Critch and Daniel Sams batted brilliantly, striking it from ball one. Dan's innings was huge for us.
"It's great to be in the final but there are still areas we need to improve. We dropped a couple of catches late on and they can cost you, and our bowlers didn't quite hit their lengths early on but I thought we were very good through the middle of the innings.
"We have batters playing well and then you look at Adam Rossington and what he is capable of and he has had a quiet tournament so far and is due a score."
Hampshire batter Joe Weatherley said:
"We felt pretty good before the rain. I thought 160 was a par score so 170 was a good score. We lost wickets quite regularly so every time I wanted to kick on I couldn't but Benny Howell came in and batted really well at the end.
"It is very disappointing because we feel that we didn't do much wrong and are actually a better T20 side now than last year when we won it. With a D/L chase all it takes is a couple of guys to hit a couple of sixes and that's what happened.
"One of our strengths in recent seasons has been death bowling but it wasn't our day today. That's no criticism of Nathan who has been brilliant for us. He always wants to bowl those overs and runs towards a challenge.
"It was a pretty true pitch. Credit to the groundsman...the pitch is really good considering all the rain we've had in the last 24 hours."
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