Friends Life t20 Finals Day, Edgbaston
1st semi-final: Leicestershire (132-6) beat Lancashire (79-6) in super over after scores were level
Oh the fun and frolics of Twenty20 cricket. Leicestershire reached the final of the Friends Life t20 in dramatic fashion, beating Lancashire in the first ever ‘super over’ in English cricket.
Will Jefferson plundered two fours and a match-winning six off Gary Keedy’s over to snatch a thrilling win in cricket’s equivalent of the penalty shoot out.
It was a result that ensured that justice was done because Lancashire had only levelled the scores in the main match with a controversial single awarded by umpire Michael Gough when the ball appeared to be dead.
Leicestershire wicketkeeper Paul Nixon gathered a return throw and lobbed it to Andrew McDonald at the bowler’s end. But McDonald had walked away believing the ball to be dead and Stephen Moore and Steven Croft took the single which was allowed to stand by Gough.
That single proved crucial when Gareth Cross levelled the scores with a last ball six off Wayne White, which is when the drama really began.
Both sides had to nominate three batsmen and a bowler to take part in the eliminator and Moore gave Lancashire the perfect start by thumping Claude Henderson’s first ball for six. But Henderson recovered well and finished with two dot balls to restrict Lancashire to 13-0.
Jefferson pulled and then straight drove Keedy’s first two balls for boundaries and, after two singles, sealed victory by pulling the slow left-armer for his huge six.
Leicestershire’s win ensures that Nixon will play his last competitive match in England in a final and that he will bow out with a trip to the Champions League in India next month.
Nixon, who announced his retirement earlier this month, claimed before the match that he thought it had been scripted that he would meet Hampshire captain Dominic Cork, another 40-year-old, in the final but even he could not have envisaged a semi-final of so many twists and turns.
Nixon did his bit to rally Leicestershire after a stodgy start in the match proper though he run himself out for a breezy 19 trying to take a bye that Abdul Razzaq was never interested in.
Leicestershire’s innings was reduced to 18 overs by rain and Lancashire’s initial target was increased to 134 and then adjusted to 80 from eleven overs after another stoppage.
Lancashire stuttered in reply losing two wickets in successive balls to Josh Cobb’s off-spin and two more in White’s last over.
Cross’s six gave Lancashire a lifeline but Jefferson snatched it away to condemn the Red Rose county to a tenth semi-final defeat in 12 years.
Shot of the match: Will Jefferson’s pulled six off Gary Keedy in the super over
Ball of the match: Keedy’s second ball which turned sharply and beat the advancing Jacques du Toit.
Catch of the match: Wayne White’s effort at long off to snare Karl Brown. White ran in, realised the ball was likely to clear him, back-pedalled furiously and leapt to pull off a brilliantly athletic catch as he tumbled backwards.
Controversial moment: Umpire Michael Gough’s decision to allow Lancashire to scramble a single when most other people on the ground thought the ball should have been called dead.
*Paul Bolton covers Midlands county cricket for thecricketer.com