The 27th of August 2011 will live long in my sporting memory.
The Leicestershire Foxes cricket team had qualified for finals day of the 20 over per side, t20 competition, after a superb run in the league and a magnificent win over Kent in the quarter-final.
Both semi-finals and the final itself would be played on one day at Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s Edgbaston ground in Birmingham. Leicestershire were to play in the first game against Lancashire Lightning. This match would then be followed by the Hampshire Royals v Somerset.
This is my photographic story of Leicestershire’s day. The most exciting day of cricket I have ever witnessed. All pictures copyright Leicester Mercury
Lancashire won the toss and put Leicestershire in to bat. And it was not the start I had imagined in my head. The Foxes lost early wickets.
Josh Cobb is caught behind off the first ball of the innings
Andrew McDonald breaks his bat playing a shot which was caught by Stephen Parry.
Will Jefferson hits five 4’s but is eventually bowled by Sajid Mahmood for 23 shortly after McDonald’s dismissal.
Next to go was Jacques Du Toit, stumped by Gareth Cross for 16
James Taylor was also stumped by Cross for 19, with the score now 82-5
After a delay for rain, Paul Nixon formed a useful partnership with Abdul Razzaq
Razzaq hit two 4’s and three 6’s in an unbeaten innings of 36
Leicestershire made 132-6 off their innings which was shortened to 18 overs because of the rain. Duckworth Lewis revised Lancashire’s target to 134.
Lancashire’s openers made a good start with the bat but Claude Henderson got the breakthrough trapping Tom Smith lbw. Another rain delay meant another revised target. Lancashire were set 80 runs off 11 overs, meaning they needed 27 runs from 17 deliveries. And with the first ball after the resumption, Henderson struck again. This time catching Steven Croft off a ball from Andrew McDonald.
Lancashire regrouped before losing two quick wickets, Wayne White running backwards caught Karl Brown and James Taylor caught Stephen Moore for 43.
The Foxes were on top in the last over until the very last ball. Needing a six to tie the match, Gareth Cross hit Wayne White over the ropes to do just that.
The match was decided by a one-over eliminator. Each team had one over to score as many runs as they could using up to three batsmen. The fielding team nominated one bowler. Matthew Hoggard tells the umpire his choices.
Lancashire batted first and made 13 from a Claude Henderson over. Will Jefferson and Josh Cobb then came into bat with a target of 14. Jefferson made it look easy with three boundaries to secure the Foxes place in the final.
A little light relief before the final saw the annual county cricket club mascot race. Was this to be a good omen ?, Charlie the Leicestershire Fox bagged the trophy.
The second semi-final was won by Somerset, again in a one-over eliminator. So with all the rain blown away, we were set for a 20 over final. Leicestershire again lost the toss and were again put into bat first.
Abdul Razzaq opened the innings for Leicestershire.
And alongside Josh Cobb, the pair made a much better start than in the semi-final.
The Foxes fans were clearly enjoying the occasion. Giving Kieron Pollard some stick
The top three had put on 96 runs by the time Will Jefferson was out lbw for 35
In comes Paul Nixon
But sadly has to bid farewell to the Edgbaston crowd. Everyone on their feet.
Jacques Du Toit made a brief appearance being caught shortly after Nixon.
James Taylor made runs with both Andrew McDonald and Wayne White to be not out on 18 after Leicestershire’s 20 overs.
The Foxes set Somerset a target of 146 to win. Which left coach Phil Whitticase wondering. Is that enough ?
Abdul Razzaq found Somerset’s opening partnership of Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter hard work.
Captain versus captain. Matthew Hoggard breaks the openers, taking the wicket of Marcus Trescothick with a catch by Josh Cobb.
Andrew McDonald struck next bowling Craig Kieswetter for 17
Another two quick wickets fell. Josh Cobb gets James Hildreth caught then Wayne White dismisses Kieron Pollard with a full lenth diving catch by Paul Nixon.
Substitute fielder Matt Boyce takes a catch in the deep taking care of Peter Trego of a ball by Josh Cobb.
Cobb in the action again. This time running out Arul Suppiah.
Somerset were well behind the required run rate and the harder they tried, the easier it was for Leicestershire. My favourite Tweet at this point “Someone teach Somerset the heimlich maneuver”. Here, James Taylor catches Craig Meschede.
Abdul Razzaq injured himself bowling the last over so Andrew McDonald finished off
During the final over I was watching Paul Nixon return to his wicket keepers mark. He was close to tears. I could see what was going on in his head. “We’re going to win”. Two balls later, they did. By 18 runs.
Hugs and high fives all round. On rushed the coaches, staff and squad players. Harry Gurney, ruled out of the final with an injury, is one of the first to congratulate the team.
I just love this reaction from coach Phil Whitticase. We won, Wayne White.
Let the celebrations begin. Matthew Hoggard lifts the Friends Life t20 trophy
Captain Matthew Hoggard has a well deserved drink of champagne
Man of the Match Josh Cobb proudly holds the t20 trophy
A special day for the loyal fans of Leicestershire County Cricket Club.
With a message for their hero, Paul Nixon.
Andrew McDonald celebrates with the Foxes faithful.
Enjoying the moment with some of the Foxes fans. Jacques Du Toit, Abdul Razzaq, Wayne White, Nadeem Malik and Shiv Thakor.
The final word has to go to Paul Nixon. A fairytale finish to an amazing career. Paul will be missed as a player on the field as as a top bloke off it. Happy retirement Nico.
Congratulations to the Foxes t20 team but also to everyone involved at Leicestershire County Cricket Club. It has been a fantastic journey and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being along for the ride.
All my thanks and best wishes,