FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

T20 Finals Day, Edgbaston

August 24, 2014

Fabulous Freddie, and the three bears

Ali Merali


Remember that pose? Andrew Flintoff celebrates his wicket, Birmingham v Lancashire, NatWest T20 Blast final, Edgbaston, August 23, 2014
Andrew Flintoff: on fire © Getty Images
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Choice of game
The T20 Finals day is arguably the best event in the domestic cricketing calendar and therefore not one I wanted to miss. Whilst I would have loved to have seen my home county, Middlesex, sadly the final was competed by Lancashire and the hosts, the Birmingham Bears.

Weather
It always seems to be raining on big match days at Edgbaston and today was no exception. Luckily the interruptions were brief and while one semi-final was played under Duckworth-Lewis, the final itself was unaffected.

Face-off I relished
With Freddie Flintoff returning to his Lancashire side for the final, I wanted to see how he would fare against the international class of Ian Bell. I needn't have worried as his first delivery was chipped into the air by Bell before being caught well by Karl Brown.

Key performer
Laurie Evans may have won the official Man-of-the-Match award for his stunning half-century off 28 balls, but I would have given it to his team-mate Chris Woakes, who added some useful lower-order runs in the first innings, but it was his sublime death bowling that sealed it for the Bears. After a slow-ball bouncer ended up as a rank long-hop, dispatched easily for six by Brown in his penultimate over, Woakes responded superbly to bowl him with a perfect yorker two balls later. Bowling the final over, with Lancashire needing 14 to win, he gave nothing away.

One thing I would have changed
It seems a shame that many of the overseas players weren't able to play on finals day. Lancashire were deprived of Junaid Khan and Birmingham of Shoaib Malik. While this may be an inevitable by-product of the scheduling, which gives a three-week break between the group stage and the finals, it was disappointing to not get to see some of the star talent.

Drop of the day
While Evans was brilliant with the bat, his drop of a simple catch from Brown, then on 1, could have proved costly. Brown hit a huge six in the same over, this one sailing over Evans' head at the midwicket boundary, and added three more in his half-century, which nearly made him the match-winner.

Shots of the day
With 26 needed of just eight deliveries the game seemed over, but Flintoff changed that with two towering sixes. The first was smashed over the bowler's head while the latter was clubbed just over deep midwicket.

Fancy-dress index
T20 Finals Day always seems to attract some fancy dress, and the usual groups of superheroes, giant hotdogs and Smurfs could be spotted around the ground. The best came from a group with a Yogi Bear, Pooh Bear and a grizzly, who had unsurprising come to support the Birmingham Bears.

Marks out of ten
9. Overall it was a great day of cricket and the crowd was in good voice to support the respective teams. I would definitely like to go again next year, hopefully this time supporting the Panthers to glory.

Want to do a Fan Following report? Read our FAQ here
Ali Merali is a young Middlesex and England supporter who enjoys watching his teams play whenever he can. Unfortunately, his cricketing talents are strictly limited to criticising players tactics (and some would argue that) and do not extend to actually playing the game itself

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