@Yas_Wisden 4 minute read
The T20 Blast group stages ended in thrilling circumstances as Northants and Leicester both sealed improbable, come-from-behind wins to secure their places in the last eight.
Over the course of the group stages, there were a number of a standout knocks to marvel at. Here are some of the best:
Joe Clarke 100* (44) v Durham
After a tough 2019 both on and off the pitch, Joe Clarke returned to the kind of form that saw him come close to an England call-up back in 2018. Still only 24, Clarke was one of the batsmen of the group stages and his hundred against Durham was his standout performance. A 44-ball hundred from No.3 – the quickest of the tournament so far – made mincemeat of Notts’ chase of 182 against Durham, the target reached with 22 balls to spare.
Babar Azam 114* (62) v Glamorgan
It wasn’t a vintage Blast campaign for the No.2 ranked T20I batsman on the planet. At times, his occasional slow starts hampered the flow of his side’s innings – most obviously in his 17-ball 10 in a chase of 204 against Gloucestershire – but he was at his very best against Glamorgan. In a game where only one other batsman passed 25, Babar was imperious and essentially determined the game’s result on his own.
Zak Crawley 108* (54) v Hampshire
On the same ground where he scored a Test match 267 less than a month before, Crawley continued his golden summer with another glorious innings at the Ageas Bowl. He exhibited near total control during his 54-ball stay at the crease, navigating Kent’s pursuit of 183 with ease as they reached their target with 17 deliveries left in the game.
Ian Cockbain 84* (35) v Birmingham Bears
The first of two Ian Cockbain knocks on this list. In a rain-affected contest, Cockbain played what is perhaps the most destructive knock of the competition so far as he helped his team post what would have been a respectable 20-over score (157-3) in just a 12-over contest.
David Wiese 79* (46) v Middlesex
At 67-5 after 9.5 overs chasing 166, Sussex looked down and out. The 35-year-old former South African all-rounder then marshalled the tail expertly to guide his side home, helped by a controversial no-ball call, with three balls to spare.
Ian Cockbain 89 (49) v Somerset
Less explosive than his previous contribution on this list, but arguably the more impressive. Cockbain found little support from his teammates as Gloucestershire chased down 162 against local rivals Somerset in the final round of the group stage – Benny Howell (21 off 13) was the only other batsman to pass 15. While Gloucestershire were already assured of their quarter-final spot before the result, their two-wicket win off the last ball effectively knocked Somerset out of the tournament.
Adam Hose 119 (64) v Northants
The highest score of the tournament so far and probably its best innings, too. In what was essentially a must-win game for Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston, the home side were floundering on 20-4 in the powerplay. Hose then put on a world-record T20 fifth-wicket stand of 171 alongside highly-rated teenager Dan Mousley to catapult the Bears up to a total of 191-5. In the end, it still wasn’t quite enough…
Graeme White 37* (12) v Birmingham Bears
Later that same game, Northants pulled off a remarkable heist of their own to pip the Bears to a quarter-final spot. At the halfway stage, Northants were 71-6. Rob Keogh and Northants debutant Tom Taylor then put on 69 off 34 balls for the seventh wicket, but there was still much to be done with Northants requiring 53 from 27 as Graeme White strolled out to the crease at No.9. What followed was simply sensational. White’s first five balls were as follows: 6, 6, 1, 6, 6. Just like that, an improbable chase turned routine in the blink of an eye.
Benny Howell 49* (18) v Somerset
Another sublime display of hitting at the death. Coming to the wicket with at 135-6 with 31 deliveries remaining in Gloucestershire’s innings, Howell blasted 49 off just 18 balls to take his side over the 200-mark – a cameo that featured five maximums.