Northamptonshire v Surrey, Flt20 final, Edgbaston August 17, 2013

Willey seals Northants' first trophy since 1992


Northamptonshire 194 for 2 (Willey 60, Wakely 59*) beat Surrey 92 (Willey 4-9) by 102 runs

Northamptonshire claimed their first major trophy since 1992 by winning the Friends Life t20 with a thumping defeat of Surrey in the final at Edgbaston.

Having won just three of their last 27 T20s before this season, dating back to their quarter-final defeat in 2010, Northants went into the campaign as rank outsiders. But there was nothing fortunate about this success.

After winning seven of their 10 group games - by contrast, they won just one out of 10 in 2012 - they produced commanding performances in the quarter-final, semi-final and final against clubs which, on at least two of those three occasions, boasted significantly larger playing budgets.

Indeed, this final pitted Northants - one of the smaller counties with a turnover of around £3.4m a year - against Surrey, the undisputed financial giants of English cricket, with a turnover that was £23.8m last year.

But this was far more than a heartening tale of an underdog enjoying their moment in the sun. For so long a county sliding into irrelevance, Northants are providing a fine example of what can be achieved by smaller counties with sound financial management, astute coaching and a refusal to accept a place among the also-rans. Having changed their coach, captain and chief executive in the last 18 months, Northants have also changed the culture of their club. It is surely more than coincidence that David Ripley, who took over as coach in August 2012, was a member of the Northants side that won the NatWest Trophy in 1992.

Whereas Northants used to be a cosy club content with its own mediocrity playing in front of dwindling numbers of spectators in a weary ground, they are now a club demonstrating the enduring value of team spirit, unity of purpose, wise recruitment and the development of local talent. Here, in front of a fine-spirited crowd and on an excellent T20 surface, they played cricket bursting with confidence and joy, reflective of a side enjoying their game and each other's successes. Here they completely outplayed Surrey.

David Willey will, quite rightly, take the plaudits. A product of the club's own system - his father, Peter, was a stalwart of the club for two-and-a-half decades - Willey not only thrashed the fastest half-century of the season, but also claimed a hat-trick to finish the game. Aged 23, his form has recently won England Lions recognition and, with England looking for a left-arm seamer to replicate the role once performed by Ryan Sidebottom, it may not be too long before he goes a step further.

But this success was built around an innings that contained three half-centuries. After Willey, only opening the batting due to a wrist injury sustained by Kyle Coetzer in the semi-final, Cameron White and Alex Wakely added 107 in 56 balls to take Northants to the highest total in an English T20 final. Bearing in mind that the innings was reduced to 18 overs by rain and that is some achievement.

Northants actually started relatively sedately. Perhaps taken aback by Zafar Ansari opening the bowling with his left-arm spin, Northants scored only one off the first over and six off the second.

But a break for rain instilled new urgency. Willey, who scored only one from his first four balls, then thrashed 50 from his next 15 to reach a 19-ball half-century. It was a blitz that included 20 off one Jade Dernbach over - "I don't particularly like the bloke," Willey said by way of explanation, "he made an idiot of himself out there" - and 17 off another from Azhar Mahmood.

Even when Willey was out, slicing to deep cover, Wakely, the team captain and another product of the club's own system, took up the challenge, pulling strongly and reaching his 50 off 25 balls. While White was, initially at least, more cautious, he accelerated in the dying overs and completed his own 39-ball 50 with a six off the final ball of the innings.

Surrey's bowling wilted in the face of such an assault. Two international seamers conceded 108 in eight overs as Mahmood, so frugal in the semi-final, was plundered for 53 in four overs, while Dernbach, offering a variety of full-tosses and half-volleys in an oddly off-colour performance, went for 55. Perhaps the damp conditions rendered it tough to grip the ball, but it was a disappointing performance in the field from Surrey.

They never threatened to go close in pursuit. While Glenn Maxwell hit an aggressive 29, the required run-rate demanded greater risk-taking than Northants' well-disciplined attack would allow. Having stuttered to 70 for 4, Surrey lost their last six wickets for 22 runs including their final four without the addition of a run. In the end, it was a rout.

But, amid the rubble of a chastening defeat, Surrey should take some confidence from their journey to the final. After a grim 18-months, this was a step in the right direction and suggested that brighter days lie ahead.

This was a good day for English cricket, too. In front of a good-natured, full-house crowd and on a pitch ideal for such a high-profile encounter - full of runs and offering encouragement to good batsmen and good bowlers - it was a day that showcased talent and provided a fine advertisement for T20 cricket.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on August 18, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    There was a guy on here who told me he had a punt on Northants at the start of the competition - after they beat Somerset in a group match. I'd be interested to know if he/you kept the betting slip safe and how much was won

  • Cyril on August 18, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    Conditions favoured Northants in the final. The ball was so wet that Surrey could not bowl spin after the break. Slower balls and yorkers slipped out as full tosses. The conditions were not equal or fair as the pitch dried out for the second innings.

    But Northants took advantage of this by being ultra-aggressive, which was very brave. The innings by Willey was a pinch-hitting fluke, yet amazing to witness. The mindset of all the Northants players combining with the slippery ball and outfield enabled the massive score.

    They deserved to win and it was nice to see a small county celebrating so wildly. I can guarantee that some of the Surrey players, Tremlett adn Maxwell for example, would not have sprinted on to celebrate victory like that. Well done Northants and their massive support.

  • John on August 18, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    @anton1234 on (August 17, 2013, 23:20 GMT) Plenty think that this format is already a graveyard format for the bowlers. Surely your proposals would take any tactical elements out of the game for the batting side.

  • Duncan on August 18, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Well, well, well, the three Ws blitzed the favourites Surrey. I'm a neutral but was happy with that. Funny to see Willey's comments about Dernbach and refreshing to see a cricketer speaking his mind. Could be interestng if he does get involved in the England set up, alongside Dernbach. On the subject, not surprising to see Dernbach's bag of tricks fall to pieces when someone goes after him - it's happened before.

  • David on August 18, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    This was a wonderful performance. Northamptonshire have played excellent cricket all season. They are in with a chance of a semi final place in the YB40 and are look in a good position for promotion in the Championship. They are a County on the move, with a good strong base. It is not just homegrown players. It is also the players who haven't done too well elsewhere but shine for the Steelbacks, such as Crook. Well done all the team including coaching and back room staff. Great day, great season.

  • John on August 18, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    What a final for Willey , fastest 50 and then finishing with a hattrick. Stuff dreams are made of.Never felt Surrey (whose main strength has been their bowling) would chase such a total down and is so often the case when a team is chasing such a huge total they capitu;ate in a desperate attempt to keep up. Was also amused by Willey's attitude towards Jade who must have chirped a bit on field. I'd also like to say what a decent day the umpires seemed to have and enjoyed how Wilson became a hero with the crowd. Congrats Northants - I don't think any neutral could begrudge them the win

  • John on August 18, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Absolutely made up for Northants. It actually made a refreshing change to watch T20 finals day (although not all of it) without the ill/stress/anxiety feelings I'd get when my team was there. Sad for Dimitri Hants missed out. Guess it goes to prove that the dominant sides (Notts and Hants) in the group stages often don't go on to win the trophy. Had to leave shortly after Levi was out in the 1st game with the game in the balance and returned when Hants were 3 down and in huge trouble. Crook had done the damage to win the game for Northants and I still fancied Hants defending a modest total and with a few overs to go it looked likely.Napier had a mixed day - this time awesome with bat but expensive with the ball. Have to be honest I didn't expect Nhamts to chase it down.

  • Mark on August 18, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    This is something that happened in the early editions of the Chamions League when Trindidad, despite tiny resources and rules designed to favour the big-spending teams, showed itself so competitive that the rules were adapted to stop them doing it again! Or Leicestershire 3 seams ago. T20 is a format where a team of modest resources can make an impact if they can come up with something new, or have one or two players in outstanding form.

  • ian on August 18, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Something very special has been happening at Northants. Their team is built with the minimum of financial clout ( which, ironically, Surrey has in abundance) & was, by far, the best team on show. For this David Ripley, the coach, must take enormous credit - the man is clearly an inspiration, besides being a great judge of a player's potential. In David Willey he is clearly developing a player with a great future. I hope, for N'hant's sake, that he doesn't move away, as was the case with Jack Brooks last season. Congratulations to everyone involved with the success at the club on a tremendous success in the FLt20. Perhaps the population of the county will start to back their county side in greater numbers. The team is more than worthy of the locals' support. As for young Willey, if he isn't given the opportunity to show-case his talent & temperament at a higher level very soon, then there is something badly amiss in the system.

  • John on August 18, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    Congratulations to Northants. It's great to see one of the smaller counties do well, even with less resources than the big guns. It will mean so much to the players and supporters of the side who have been through some lean years. David Willey had a game he will always remember.

    On another note, Chris Tremlett didn't look in great form. His pace was well down, he didn't get much lift and his length wasn't great. I remain convinced that he's a bowler made for Australian conditions. Hopefully he won't be Bresnan's replacement for the last test.

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