Jordan Cox produces a moment of magic to change the course of the final
Jordan Cox produces a moment of magic to change the course of the final

T20 Blast Finals Day: Kent win after bat and field heroics from Jordan Cox

Jordan Cox thumped an unbeaten 58 from 28 balls and showcased his amazing athleticism in assisting with a stunning catch as Kent were crowned Vitality Blast champions after defeating Somerset by 25 runs in an eventful final.

Cox went through the gears in an innings containing three fours and as many sixes as Kent finished with a flourish to post 167 for seven after losing the toss at Edgbaston, before taking centre stage again in Somerset’s reply.

The chase was starting to peter out but Cox made sure there was no way back, diving full length over the rope to palm back Lewis Gregory’s thumping blow back to Matt Milnes, with Somerset eventually recording 142 for nine.

A moment of contention arose earlier when Will Smeed was reprieved after Cox had taken a catch before colliding with Daniel Bell-Drummond, who was touching the boundary rope. A six was given but the decision was rendered moot as Smeed holed out again to Cox, one of three batsmen to fall to the occasional leg-spin of Joe Denly.

Kent were left celebrating a second success in this competition 14 years after their first triumph – with Darren Stevens, now 45, taking part in both. He had a peripheral role in the showpiece but it was his bowling that led to Gregory’s downfall.

This was historic Finals Day, where all four semi-finalists were from the South Group. Kent had finished top of that pile despite being beaten by Somerset twice. However it was Somerset, the 2005 champions, on the losing side this time despite Roelof van der Merwe earlier taking three for 19.

Bell-Drummond had belted 81 in Kent’s 21-run semi-final win over Sussex and looked in the mood again after lifting Craig Overton back over his head for six. Zak Crawley was strong on the leg-side as he and Bell-Drummond laid the foundations with a 44-run stand before Somerset turned to Van der Merwe in the last over of the powerplay.

He made inroads with his second and third balls, Bell-Drummond slog sweeping hard to midwicket before Denly spliced high, leading to Tom Abell sprinting to take a superb diving catch over his shoulder at deep extra-cover.

Sam Billings then poked an innocuous delivery to extra-cover to give a third wicket to Van der Merwe, who alongside fellow slow left armer Lewis Goldsworthy stifled the scoring, conceding just three boundaries between them.

Crawley holed out to deep midwicket for 41 off 33 while Jack Leaning had gone through 29 balls in his 27 before getting a top-edge to Josh Davey’s slower delivery as Kent lurched to 111 for five at the end of the 16th over.

Cox had also found it tough – taking 17 balls to get to 20 – but he cast off the shackles as the innings approached its climax, bludgeoning 38 from his last 11 deliveries.

Cox clubbed two mighty leg-side sixes off Marchant de Lange, either side of 45-year-old Darren Stevens being run out, and then brought up his 26-ball half-century by rocking on to the back foot and flashing Davey over deep square-leg. Two fours came off the last two balls as Kent took 49 from the last three overs.

Somerset made a false start with their chase, with Tom Banton stumped second ball off Denly and Goldsworthy departing in the next over. But Kent’s decision to gamble on a second Denly over seemed to backfire, Abell smearing successive fours before Smeed punished a long hop with a meaty heave over deep midwicket.

Smeed cut and flicked Fred Klaassen for successive fours to stabilise Somerset on 47 without further loss at the end of the powerplay, but a fruitful 58-run stand was then ended when Abell sliced Qais Ahmad to backward point.

Controversy arose just after the halfway point as Smeed greeted Denly’s return with a slog sweep that was pouched by Cox in the deep. However, it was given not out and a six was awarded after a collision with Bell-Drummond, who was touching the rope and Cox immediately after the catch was taken.

Confusion reigned for a few minutes before a decision was made by the officials upstairs, but any sense of the decision overshadowing the contest seemed to vanish when Smeed thumped Denly’s full toss to Cox again for 43 in the same over. This time there were no let-offs.

Tom Lammonby was adjudged lbw off Denly although replays indicated the ball was missing leg stump before Cox took the spotlight again – leaping over the rope and in one motion palming the ball back to Milnes to complete a catch to the astonishment of the 23,500 crowd.

The unfortunate batsman was Gregory, the Somerset captain trudging off barely able to believe what he had seen. Somerset’s lower order had performed a rescue act earlier on in the two-wicket win over Hampshire but there was to be no repeat as they fell well short.

Somerset win semi-final thriller

Somerset overcame a top-order collapse to book their spot in the Vitality Blast final courtesy of an improbable two-wicket victory over Hampshire with two balls to spare at a rocking Edgbaston.

Chasing Hampshire’s 150 all out, underpinned by Joe Weatherley’s career-best 71 off 50 balls after he was given a major reprieve by fielder Marchant de Lange’s lapse in the field, Somerset looked doomed on 34 for five.

While Tom Abell kept them afloat with an important 50 from 35 balls, they still needed 48 runs from the last 3.2 overs. But Ben Green’s 35 off 18 gave them hope and Josh Davey followed up his four for 34 with the ball with a cameo 11 not out from three deliveries as Somerset sealed a place in the showpiece against Kent, who beat Sussex by 21 runs.

Hampshire were asked to bat first and were still in single figures when James Vince and Toby Albert departed to catches behind the wicket. Tom Prest was then bowled through the gate by a nip-backer from Davey, who thought he had his third wicket when Tom Banton took a steepler running forward after Weatherley’s slog-sweep had caught the top-edge.

But Weatherley, who had already cleared deep square-leg twice with identical strokes, was wise to De Lange drifting outside the 30-yard circle in breach of fielding restrictions and gesticulated to the umpires. A no-ball was called, with Weatherley granted a major let-off on 26, and Liam Dawson hammering the extra delivery for six.

It was not an immediately obvious turning point, with slow left-armers Roelof van der Merwe and Lewis Goldsworthy subduing Weatherley and Dawson, who was cleaned up for 18 by a devilish yorker in Ben Green’s only over.

Only two boundaries came in the 10 overs after the powerplay, with Hampshire on 99 for five at the end of the 16th. While wickets continued to tumble, they upped the rate in adding 51 from the final four overs as De Lange’s miserable morning continued.

He was spanked for two sixes apiece by Chris Wood, who made an entertaining 18 off six, then Weatherley. Either side of that Davey returned to bowl Wood and Scott Currie before Weatherley holed out in the final over to give De Lange his only moment of success.

Early woes overcome

Somerset made a watchful start but capitulated from 15 without loss to 34 for five within the space of 22 balls, seemingly guaranteeing Hampshire would break their semi-final hoodoo, having lost four times at this stage since they last won the competition in 2012.

Banton picked out the deep midwicket fielder, Vince just about got his fingers underneath a chance at mid-on to see off Van der Merwe before taking a catch at mid-off to dismiss Will Smeed. Goldsworthy summed up the scrambled minds of Somerset’s batsmen when he was run out while Tom Lammonby was trapped in front by Mason Crane first ball.

Some lusty blows from Abell kept the 23,500-crowd entertained but the asking rate was at nearly 14 an over when he holed out in the 17th over.

A seemingly hopeless cause was ignited when sloppy full tosses from Brad Wheal were taken the distance by Green then Overton while the former then crunched Wood twice over midwicket in the next over before holing out.

But Green’s cameo meant Somerset needed just 10 from the last over, and his replacement Davey thumped Wheal down the ground for six before, with the field up, a leg-side four brought the 2005 champions victory.

Kent cruise through to final

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Darren Stevens propelled Kent into the Vitality Blast final and a showdown with Somerset on Saturday night after a 21-run victory over Sussex at Edgbaston.

Bell-Drummond took centre stage at the top of the order with a stylish 82 from 51 balls while Stevens, who won this competition with Leicestershire in 2004, showed plenty of guile to help Kent post 168 for eight.

The 45-year-old struck 47 not out from 28 balls and then snared David Wiese with his first ball in the reply, with Sussex’s chase undermined by the regular clatter of wickets as they stumbled to 147 all out after 19.1 overs.

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