Twenty20 Finals Day

Posted on: 29 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Middlesex Crusaders clinched their first trophy in 15 years after holding their nerve to win a tense Twenty20 Cup final by three runs at the Rose Bowl.

England one-day international regular Owais Shaw was the hero, cracking a best-of-the-day 75 from just 35 balls as the Crusaders set defending champions Kent Spitfires a target of 188 under the lights.

Middlesex’s target was the highest score of a Twenty20 final ever, but Rob Key and Joe Denly’s 89 stand in reply, and a 49 from Justin Kemp, ensured it went to the last over.

However, needing 16 to win, they fell agonisingly short as they failed to hit a four off the last ball, ending on 184/5 – Tyron Henderson conceding just one run off his final two deliveries to seal the victory for the Crusaders.

It was a thrilling end to a sensational finals day in Southampton. Kent looked to have fought their way back from the brink at numerous times only to pull up short at the death.

Despite their defeat, the Spitfires will join Middlesex in the proposed Champions League next season, providing problems over them fielding Indian Cricket League players can be resolved.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders will enjoy the riches of matches against England and Trinidad & Tobago which have been lined up by American billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

Earlier in the day, Kent had seen off the challenge from Essex Eagles by 14 runs and in the second semi-final Middlesex overcame Durham Dynamos by three runs.

It was Middlesex’s first piece of silverware since winning the County Championship in 1993 with a squad bristling with test-match experience. But the side that sent its supporters into delirious celebrations on Saturday night was a sign of new life in the county.

Their unheralded and youthful side showed maturity beyond their years to claim victory and acting captain Ed Joyce believes the county can now move on to bigger and better things.

The Lords-based club win came after a season that began in turbulent fashion with section of members calling for an EGM and a vote of no confidence in the committee.

The motion was subsequently overturned, but Joyce admitted that the team's performances started to improve from that point on.

Joyce says, “Will winning this trophy help to pull the club together? I hope so because we haven't won something for a long time and the fans deserve it more than anything.”

Did calling for an EGM affect the side?

“There was unrest at the start of the year, and probably rightly so. We started the season pretty poorly again and the supporters were within their rights to do that.”

“Funnily enough we started playing well straight afterwards. That was a bit of coincidence but there was a bit of unrest and there are guys out of contract.”

“I think that is coincidence more than anything but hopefully everything can get sorted out and we can win more trophies.”

Joyce believes the team has got a good chance of winning the Stanford Super Series later this year, when they will take on England, an All-Star XI and Trinidad & Tobago.

“It will be quite fun and, because we've had a lot of time together, we might be at a bit of an advantage there,” added the Irishman.

“England have had a bit of chopping and changing in the Twenty20 squad and they don't play that much so they probably haven't got that mix we have got, the experience of playing 12 games this season.”

“People will say England should win - and probably they should - but we've got a decent chance as well.”

Shaun Udal and Murali Kartik should help Middlesex clinch more wins.

“We've got two of the best spinners in Twenty20. These guys just don't get hit that much.”

“I think we've got a good formula and, whoever we play against in the future, if we play to our potential we should do fine.”

Did you see the Twenty20 Cup finals day? Who were you supporting? Can Middlesex go on to bigger and better things? Who will win the Stanford Super Series?

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