Essex 148 for 6 (Westley 36, Bopara 36*) beat Worcestershire 145 for 9 (Harmer 3-16) by four wickets
Eight hours earlier, Wayne Parnell had successfully defended Notts’ requirement of a single off the final ball to take Worcestershire into the final of the Vitality Blast. Now, at the end of English cricket’s longest day, with Edgbaston once again a sea of delirium, he had to do it again. This time Simon Harmer beat the off-side field and Essex had seen off the defending champions to win the tournament for the first time.
It was fitting that Harmer had the last word. In Essex’s semi-final stroll against Derbyshire and this narrowest of victories, he returned the combined figures of 7 for 35, the best ever recorded on T20 Finals Day. He was perfectly served by a surface that turned throughout the day and perhaps, just perhaps, gave Essex a little added zip with a hint of dew in the closing overs.
“It’s a lottery,” decry the critics of Twenty20. Don’t tell that to Worcestershire. In successive seasons, their nerveless, intelligent cricket under the brilliant stewardship of Moeen Ali (is there a better captain in the country?) had made them the most resilient side in the land. They had defended 147 against Notts; now it was 145. But this time they had to reckon with Ravi Bopara.
For much of the climax to this riveting final, fought out on a difficult turning surface, it had felt like Bopara versus Worcestershire, and for his most zealous admirers (and there are many) Bopara versus The World. County cricket’s most reluctant finisher, who has gently carped all summer long about batting at No 6, fashioned a super-cool 36 from 22 balls to hold together an Essex chase that, when they lost their fifth wicket at 82, needing 64 from 41, was so patently down to him.
This was Essex’s fifth Finals Day appearance and the first time they had won a semi-final. “It’s the one trophy I don’t have in my cabinet and we finally have it,” Bopara said. He has been trying since a T20 debut, batting at No 9, against Surrey at East Molesey in 2003. His international career ended in 2015 just as England adopted a new approach to limited-overs cricket and that his reputation was tarnished by association with their previous failings is unfortunate.
Bopara’s six over long off from Moeen’s penultimate ball was a key moment, leaving Essex 39 short with four overs left. He then clattered Pat Brown’s slower ball over midwicket as that rate fell to 23 from two.
When Brown bowled Paul Walter, Essex were still 17 short with eight balls left. Harmer drove Brown down the ground to cut the last-over requirement to 12 – but 11 for the tie, and victory by virtue of losing fewer wickets, was likely to be enough. Harmer drilled Parnell down the ground to reduce the trophy-winning requirement to one off the final ball. Parnell looked distraught and close to exhaustion. Moeen offered calming words. Harmer whistled the final shot to the cover boundary.
Essex’s Powerplay had yielded only 36 for the loss of Cameron Delport, who was strangely subdued in making a single off seven balls in an innings that came to grief when he clipped Parnell to backward square. Adam Wheater, a No 5 all season, came in at three, and no doubt to orders provided a decorous run-a-ball 15 until he was bowled attempting a reverse lap at Daryl Mitchell. Essex appeared composed enough at 63 for 2 at midway, with 83 needed from the second half of the innings, but Moeen had retained nine overs from himself, Parnell and Brown for the second half of the innings.
The strength of Worcestershire’s batting line-up, one that seems full of bit parts from as high as No 4, is that it finds a way. And, in making 145 for 8, it appeared to have found a way again. But Worcestershire could not subdue Harmer. He followed his 4 for 19 against Derbyshire in the semi-final with 3 for 16, a comparable return despite the sense that Worcestershire were playing him with rather more nous.
Moeen and Riki Wessels provided the substance with a second-wicket stand of 56 in 48 balls. Moeen’s presence was enough to persuade Harmer not to bowl in the Powerplay, as he had in the semi-final, Sam Cook’s pace was as unthreatening as that of Jamie Porter, who had been preferred to him in the semi.
Harmer intervened with wickets in successive balls at the start of his second over. Moeen’s first boundary had been an uppish slice against Lawrence through backward point, but he smoothed his way to 32 in 26 balls with another exercise in cricketing meditation.
But Harmer’s turn defeated his work to leg whereupon the bowler, one of the best slippers in the country, plunged forward to hold an excellent low catch. Ben Cox, who had guided Worcestershire to the trophy a year ago, was lbw next ball as he tried to sweep, but even the president of the Respect for Umpires Association would have deemed this a terrible decision, because Cox was well outside the line and got a big inside-edge on the ball too.
Parnell fell to Harmer’s penultimate ball, bowled by a faster arm-ball, and at 90 for 4 with the 14th over about to begin, Worcestershire promoted Mitchell above Whiteley. In Western terms, the peace-loving sheriff had been preferred to the local gunslinger, and Mitchell duly provided a cautious 19 from 15 balls to edge Worcestershire to a realistic total.
Wessels was a figure of realism, too, with 31 from 34 balls;. Once a square-of-the-wicket adventurer, he still has those qualities but increasingly in this Worcestershire side, a successful side at that, he finds himself pushing singles to hold the innings together. It might have been enough. Instead, he became a support act in a wonderfully entertaining day.
No answer to India-Pakistan bilateral ties resumption – Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly, who will take charge as BCCI’s next president on October 23, has said that resumption of bilateral cricket with Pakistan is subject to the permission of the Indian government. Ganguly said that the decision could only be taken by the prime ministers of the two countries: Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, who also happens to be the patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“You have to ask that question to Modi ji and the Pakistan Prime Minister,” Ganguly said at a media briefing in Kolkata on Tuesday. “Of course we have (to take permission), because international exposure (tours) is all through governments. So we don’t have an answer to that question.”
Ganguly had led India on the historic tour of Pakistan in 2004, the first bilateral series since the Kargil war in 1999 and India’s first visit to Pakistan since 1989.
The last time both neighbours featured in a bilateral series was in late 2012, when India hosted Pakistan for a limited-overs series comprising two T20Is and three ODIs.
In February, the BCCI asked the ICC in an e-mail letter “to sever ties with countries from which terrorism emanates”. That letter was sent at the behest of the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), which was appointed as the supervisory authority of the board till fresh elections were held. The previous day the CoA had mulled over asking the ICC to boycott Pakistan from the World Cup.
At the time the BCCI and CoA were reacting to the terror strikes in Pulwama in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in which more than 40 paramilitary troops were killed.
James Pamment takes over as USA interim coach | Cricket
James Pamment, the 51-year-old former Auckland batsman, has taken the role of USA head coach on an interim basis through to the end of 2019. This comes after the contracts of USA director of cricket Kiran More and a string of other assistant coaches were not renewed following an initial three-month period. Pamment’s appointment had been rumoured since the start of the month but has since been confirmed to ESPNcricinfo by multiple USA Cricket sources.
More had been appointed in July by USA Cricket to oversee their quest to qualify for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia, serving as a “senior operations consultant” according to a USA Cricket press release. But his arrival sparked a power struggle with USA head coach Pubudu Dassanayake, who had been in place since September 2016 and had led USA to ODI status in April at WCL Division Two. After mounting tension at a USA squad camp at Los Angeles in June, Dassanayake resigned, citing a “loss of freedom” in selection decisions.
More did not to travel with the USA squad to Bermuda in August for the Americas Regional Final for the T20 World Cup Qualifier. Sunil Joshi was notified by email after the team arrived on tour that he would be the stand-in head coach in More’s place. Though USA headed into the four-team event as favourites after winning the sub-regional qualifier over Canada in North Carolina in September 2018, the team finished third after losing all four of their matches to Canada and Bermuda, who wound up advancing instead of USA to the T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE.
A tentative plan had been discussed to extend More’s consultant contract through to the 2020 T20 World Cup had USA qualified, but once they failed in Bermuda, that became a non-starter. He oversaw USA’s ODI tri-series performances in Florida last month, where they went 3-1 in their opening round of Cricket World Cup League Two matches against Namibia and Papua New Guinea. Those were his last matches in charge. David Saker had left as fast bowling consultant coach to go back to Australia immediately after the Bermuda tour while batting consultant coaches Pravin Amre and Kieran Powell were not present in Bermuda nor Florida.
Pamment had initially been contracted as fielding coach for USA when More came on board. However, he has been asked to remain to help oversee a transition period for USA’s next two tours – the CWI Super50 in Trinidad next month and a CWC League Two ODI tri-series against UAE and Scotland in Dubai in December – until a full-time appointment can be made in January 2020. Pamment is not expected to apply for the full-time role because, like More, he has a multi-year contract with Mumbai Indians in the IPL, having replaced Jonty Rhodes as their fielding coach in 2018.
USA Cricket is seeking a full-time commitment after the failed strategy of hiring short-term consultants to replace Dassanayake for T20 World Cup Qualifier.
Originally from Yorkshire, Pamment migrated to New Zealand early in his career and played 14 first-class and 33 List A games from 1993 to 1996. Aside from his stint with Mumbai Indians in the IPL, Pamment previously coached Northern Districts in New Zealand from 2013 to 2017.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
UAE duo ‘stood to make US$272,000’ in successful fix
The two UAE players provisionally suspended for alleged breaches of the ICC anti-corruption code stood to make up to US$272,000 (approx.) if they successfully corrupted the games in the upcoming T20 World Cup qualifiers.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the players had been engaged in talks to carry out fixes – ranging from a session to a result – in three of the matches in the qualifiers, which begins on Friday with the UAE playing in the day’s second fixture in Abu Dhabi.
The operations that have led to provisional suspensions of captain Mohammad Naveed and senior pro Shaiman Anwar was so planned that, it is understood, the players had contracts drawn up for the amounts that would be paid depending on the nature of the fix.
It is understood that investigations by the ICC’s ACU revealed that both Naveed and Anwar had been engaged by corruptors to fix the results and or session(s) in those three matches; the amounts involved were on a sliding scale of up to around US$272,000.
The ACU had been monitoring the players in question since the UAE’s tour of Zimbabwe in April this year. Among others being surveilled was Mehardeep Chhayakar, an alleged corruptor, originally from India, who has been involved with cricket in Ajman and is apparently known in gambling circles as “Gary”.
It was during that series in April, played in Harare, that Chhayakar is believed to have attempted to induce Qadeer Ahmed, the third UAE cricketer to be provisionally suspended along with Naveed and Anwar, into fixing in one of the matches.
Chhayakar, along with three other Indian men – all alleged corruptors – were detained by local police in Harare on corruption allegations at the time but released later. The ACU continued to keep a close eye on the movements of the four.
On October 6, the ACU brought in five persons for questioning, including the players charged today. It is understood that the ACU has kept the local police in the UAE informed about the developments.
The ACU handed the charges in person to Naveed and Anwar earlier on Wednesday; Qadeer is currently away in Pakistan while Chhayakar’s whereabouts are unknown.
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