Samit Patel helps Nottinghamshire sink Birmingham to win T20 Blast

• Nottinghamshire Outlaws 190-4; Birmingham Bears 168-8
• Samit Patel and Harry Gurney shine for Outlaws on finals day

What a special summer Nottinghamshire are having. They are T20 champions for the first time, and they have done the white-ball double. Expect them to add the Division Two title by the month’s end. Their heroes this time were figures from England’s past, Samit Patel and Harry Gurney. Peter Moores, do not forget, has masterminded the whole thing, shaking Notts up and slimming them down.

They are the fifth straight winners from the North Group, beating Birmingham Bears – who had knocked out Glamorgan earlier – in the fourth successive all-northern final. The last team to do the double were Hampshire, whom Notts knocked off in the semi-final by 23 runs, in 2012.

Gurney took combined figures of seven for 36 (the most wickets ever on a finals day) with the canniest adjustments of pace and length, while Patel was brilliant with the bat – scoring 99 runs on the day, including a brilliant stand with Brendan Taylor in the final – and tidy with the ball, picking up the key wicket of Shahid Afridi from the first ball of Hampshire’s chase. Of most satisfaction to him were the superb direct hit run-outs in each game.

Afterwards, Patel bristled, refusing to accept his international career – against red or white ball – was over. He has not, he says, been contacted by the selectors since his last England tour, of South Africa 18 months ago and believes he is viewed as a bits-and-pieces cricketer. “You’d be disappointed if they weren’t watching that,” he said. “Putting on that England shirt, it means everything to me. I have thought about picking up the phone but there’s only one winner there … they’ve left me out and the only way I can get back in is by putting in performances like today. I’m ready if they ring me, that’s for sure.”

Patel made a decent case. He joined Taylor with Notts 30 for three after losing the tournament’s most brutal batsman, Alex Hales, and its most consistent, Riki Wessels, either side of Tom Moores, who made the first ever “Finals Day pair”. All three fell to Chris Woakes, who had also taken three wickets against Glamorgan. Patel and Taylor went through the gears for the near-perfect rebuilding job: stabilisation, consolidation, then eventually acceleration. They put on 132, reaching fifties in successive balls and fashioning a formidable total by taking calculated risks.

When Dom Sibley took a brilliant catch at long-off (his team’s fifth inspired piece of fielding of the day) to get rid of Taylor, Birmingham might have felt chipper. They needn’t have; out came Dan Christian, who smote 28 off eight balls, with 23 coming off the final over. That was bowled by poor Olly Stone, whose night had blotted a fine day; against Glamorgan, he had touched 92mph, swung the ball late and taken three for 29.

Ed Pollock’s mistake – lazy running punished by Patel’s second direct hit – could not sully his earlier work, when his 23-ball fifty (with four sixes in the first 14 balls of the match) had led Birmingham to 175, enough to win by 11 runs. He started the summer studying at Durham University but usurped Ian Bell and William Porterfield and embodies Birmingham’s transformation. There are reasons for optimism.

Either side of Pollock’s wicket, Gurney foxed Sibley and Jake Ball castled Adam Hose. Soon Grant Elliott was gone, too, and Sam Hain – who had taken two brilliant catches against Glamorgan – took charge. Despite battling cramp, he brought up a 27-ball fifty with his third six, and was joined briefly by the brutal Colin de Grandhomme and Aaron Thomason, another young cricketer with spunk and spark. But back came Gurney to dismiss all three, and secure Notts’ title. He had been brilliant against Hampshire too, taking three in an over. Steven Mullaney swung that match with the key wicket of James Vince for 56 in pursuit of 170. No chase was successful all day, despite the winners of the toss always choosing to bat second.

Whether for reasons of gorgeous weather, or the heady mix of faces old and new playing competitive, quality cricket, this was a finals day for the ages. There remains no grander fancy dress party in the land (for the record, Mr Blobby led the Hollies Stand conga and Alfred G.Rilla retained his mascots’ race crown) and while it will never be everyone’s tipple – although all in attendance have a tipple or two – it is a wonderful day, superbly hosted.

Contributor

Will Macpherson at Edgbaston

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