This short, strange season finally finished with three short, strange games, and, at the end of them, a second T20 title for Nottinghamshire. They beat Surrey by six wickets in a final that finished late on a cold, dark October evening.
There were one or two twists in the finish. Nottinghamshire were 19 for three at one point and flagging badly before they were revived by a 63-run partnership between Ben Duckett and that gnarled old pro Peter Trego. But the day belonged to their captain, the Australian all-rounder Dan Christian who turned the semi-final with the bat, the final with the ball, and was there, not out on 21, at the end of it all.
Christian had put Surrey in, which paid off because they had a calamitous beginning. Hashim Amla and Jason Roy met mid-pitch to discuss whether there was a single on or not, disagreed about it, and set off in the same direction before Roy doubled back the way he came. While they were making up their minds, Nottinghamshire fumbled two separate attempts to run one of them out. Soon after, Tom Moores missed a chance to stump Amla, too. Given that Amla was caught off the next delivery for three off 10, the chance was not too costly. But the one Trego missed when he dropped Roy off Jake Ball was.
Roy snapped soon after that, and smacked Samit Patel (who had bowled particularly well, with two overs for six runs) back down the ground. He almost took Patel’s head off with one straight drive, and then a leg with another. Roy did not look back after that, and accelerated from 23 off 23 to 66 off 47.
At the other end, Laurie Evans kept pace with him with 43 off 23. But a tight over from Imad Wasim slowed them, and then Christian brought himself into the attack. He had Evans caught at mid-wicket, and dismissed Jamie Overton with his next ball, thanks to Moores’ brilliant diving catch.
Roy went in the next over, lbw to Ball, and Surrey stalled. Nottinghamshire picked up four for 24 in those last four overs, as Christian got both Ben Foakes and Liam Plunkett in his last over. Their total of 127 never looked like it was going to be enough, even when Alex Hales was caught at square leg off Reece Topley’s first delivery.
But Surrey fought hard. Joe Clarke was caught at square leg off Will Jacks, and Nottinghamshire were four for two. That became 19 for three when Patel hoisted the ball to Rory Burns at long-on. Burns had already dropped him there once. Patel obligingly gave him the second chance two balls later. Then Trego and Duckett ran away with it.
For a long time, it was not clear whether there would be any cricket at all. The semi-finals finally started at a 3.15pm, a day-and-plenty later than scheduled. Given that the ECB had set aside a second reserve day, next Wednesday, when the weather forecast was fine, it may have been better off waiting till then and playing three full games.
Instead, the technical committee decided to make the semi-finals 11-overs-a-side, and the final 16-a-side. Gloucestershire surely would have preferred to come back and try again next week, given the way they played in the first game. They cobbled together a meagre 73 for seven, and Surrey beat them by six wickets in a scrappy game.
The second semi was better. Lancashire made 94 for four. In reply, Nottinghamshire rattled off 50 runs from the first 26 balls of their innings, before the spinners Matt Parkinson and Tom Hartley pulled Lancashire back into the match by taking three wickets in 10 balls between them. Unfortunately for them, that only brought in Christian, who clobbered four sixes in four balls off Liam Livingstone.
He followed that with four wickets in 10 balls in the final, and was undefeated with the bat at the end. By then Sweet Caroline was echoing around the empty stands, which felt like a clear sign that, fun as it has been, it was long past time to wrap the season up.