Essex claimed their first-ever T20 Blast title, usurping defending champions Worcestershire in a thrilling final-ball win on Saturday, September 21.
Captain Simon Harmer struck the winning runs in Essex’s 146-run chase, scoring a rapid seven-ball 18 that pushed his side over the line on the final ball. At the other end was Ravi Bopara, whose unbeaten 36 had pulled Essex out of a hole, after they were reduced to 82-5 in 13.1 overs.
“It was one of those days where everything came off, my bowling and my batting,” Harmer later told BBC. “It’s a special night.
Essex win the 2019 T20 Blast!!!! pic.twitter.com/eF4QZKp2Rz
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 21, 2019
“We said at the beginning of the competition it’s always been about the County Championship and we’re just happy to be in the T20, but I really, really wanted that.”
Earlier, Harmer starred with the ball too, helping restrict Worcestershire to 145-9 in 20 overs. The 30-year-old snared 3-16, ending with a total of 17 wickets in the competition, the most for Essex this season. Opener Riki Wessels, and Moeen Ali, at No.3, gave Worcestershire the initial thrust, racking up 61 runs, before Harmer claimed three batsmen – including Ben Cox for a first-ball duck – as Worcestershire were brought down to 90-4 by the 13th over.
Wayne Parnell and Daryl Mitchell then mustered crucial runs for the fifth wicket, but with Ravi Bopara cleaning up the lower middle-order, they fell five shy of 150.
— Essex Cricket (@EssexCricket) September 21, 2019
Essex began their chase slowly, with Cameron Delport departing early after garnering a solitary run in seven balls. His opening partner Tom Westley, joint top-scorer along with Bopara in the game, then combined with Adam Wheater to give the innings some form, before Wheater was dismissed, on 15, in the eighth over. The side lost their next three wickets for 18 runs.
Paul Walter  then kept company as Bopara unfurled the big hits, with Essex requiring 39 from the final four. The equation was reduced to 12 off 6, and further to six off two balls, before Harmer smacked back-to-back fours to seal the win. Bopara ended with two fours and as many sixes in his 22-ball knock.
“Unbelievable, it’s the one trophy we didn’t have in the cabinet,” Bopara told BBC. “I’ve won everything else with Essex and this was the one I was desperate for.”
Worcestershire captain Moeen hailed the Bopara-Harmer duo for their match-winning efforts, but backed his team for showing spirit even in defeat.
“I’m disappointed with the result, but not with the performance. We have won a few tight games like that in the last few years and we came up short this time, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“It was a great game of T20 cricket and full credit to Essex. Ravi Bopara was fantastic. He showed his experience and he basically won the game for them, along with Simon Harmer.”