T20 BLAST, 2019
Essex entered the final of the T20 Blast for the first time © Getty
Cameron Delport’s half-century was followed by a spin riot as Simon Harmer, Aron Nijjar and Daniel Lawrence picked up eight wickets between them to power Essex to their maiden appearance in the T20 Blast final. Having posted 160 for 5, Essex bowled out Derbyshire for 126 in the second semi-final on Saturday (September 21), with Harmer bagging a four-wicket haul to star in his team’s 34-run victory.
With 15 runs in the opening over off James Porter, which included two fours and a six off the first three deliveries of the innings, Luis Reece got the chase going. He added another to his boundary tally in the second over before edging Aaron Beard behind the stumps where ‘keeper Adam Wheater held on to a fine one-handed catch. In what was a similar template, Billy Godleman fell to Simon Harmer having scored two fours off Porter while Wayne Madsen was bowled by Aron Nijjar, who came back well after being hit for two fours and a six.
It was a positive powerplay for Derbyshire as they scored 59 but it came at the expense of three wickets. But things went further downhill after that. Harmer, who bowled the eighth over, made things even tougher for Derbyshire as Leus du Plooy and Anuj Dal were bowled off successive deliveries. Nijjar, the left-arm spinner, sent back Matthew Critchley and Alex Hughes in his successive overs while there was also a wicket for the leg-break of Daniel Lawrence, who sent back Fynn Hudson-Prentice – the sixth to be bowled in the innings – to completely derail Derbyshire.
Daryn Smit and Logan van Beek kept Essex waiting, but not for too long as Harmer sent back the former and ended with fine figures of 4 for 19 from his four overs. With Delport sending back Ravi Rampaul in the 19th, Essex sealed a comprehensive victory to set up a final clash against defending champions Worcestershire.
Earlier, opting to bat, Essex were provided a strong platform by the opening pair of Delport and Tom Westley, who added 78 at close to 10 an over. Westley employed a slightly sedate approach, scoring at a run-a-ball in the powerplay and feeding Delport most of the strike as the latter struck struck seven fours in the 22 balls he faced in the first six overs, going on to bring up a 28-ball fifty.
Delport’s stay came to an end in the ninth over when lack of pace did the trick for Hughes. One wicket led to many as Derbyshire made crucial incisions in their bid to keep Essex’s progress in check. From 78 for 0, Essex slipped to 107 for 4 with Westley being the fourth to depart.
Ravi Bopara and Wheater had some repair work to so, which meant that they had to delay the assault to ensure more wickets wouldn’t fall. But their batting lacked sting even in the death as Bopara, who had scored two fours before the 14th over ended, wasn’t able to find the ropes for the remainder of his stay which came to an end in the 18th over. In what was a dry spell of more than five overs without a boundary, Wheater too was kept quiet until he finally hit a boundary in the last over, as Essex could only manage 45 in the last six, which eventually proved to be more than enough.
Brief scores: Essex 160/5 in 20 overs (Cameron Delport 55, Tom Westley 39; Alex Hughes 2-24, Luis Reece 2-24) beat Derbyshire 126 in 18.4 overs (Alex Hughes 23; Simon Harmer 4-19, Aron Nijjar 3-26) by 34 runs.