As a Middlesex fan I am used to being a neutral on Finals Day. Warwickshire seemed the better team on paper with England stars such as Ian Bell and all-round talent including Chris Woakes. However, Hampshire have a knack of winning closely fought finals against all odds and they were the team I decided to support.
Woakes has been an instrumental part of Warwickshire's success this season and his duel with Hampshire skipper Jimmy Adams always looked as if it could be potentially pivotal. Adams got the better of the early proceedings by flicking Woakes for a six on the leg side before getting a streaky single with a leading edge two balls later. It was Woakes who had the last laugh however. Returning 15 overs later, he bowled Adams for 66.
I was sitting in the lower part of the Grand Stand therefore Warwickshire's substitute fielder, Paul Best, who was fielding at square leg was right in front of me. In the 31st over Sean Ervine slogged one towards him, however, despite an acrobatic effort he couldn't quite get a hand on it. The crowd jeered him and his embarrassment increased after it was given a four, suggesting it would have gone straight to him had he not moved forwards. In the second innings, Kabir Ali pleased the crowd by obliging with a wave and received a round of applause.
Having recently attended the Twenty20 Finals Day, I expected the atmosphere to be much more subdued since the venue was Lord's and the format slightly longer, and I was not surprised. But while at first the crowd was quiet it soon picked up, and by the end everyone was captivated, cheering every delivery regardless of the result.
With Warwickshire needing just one of the last ball it easy to understand that there was huge pressure on the bowler, Ali. However, his move to put fine leg on the boundary seemed illogical at best. Adams was furious at this and a compromise was soon met in which fine leg was halfway out of the inner circle, clearly giving a single. I don't think team manager Giles White would have been too impressed had Neil Carter managed to take an easy single there of the last ball to win his side the game.
This game can be described as the most exciting CB 40 final ever, however, it was sad to see both sides without their key players. Hampshire seemed different without the talismanic Dimitri Mascerenhas and missed left-arm spinner Danny Briggs who was already in Sri Lanka with the England World Twenty20 squad. Likewise, Warwickshire opener William Porterfield has already travelled with Ireland and Jonathan Trott was absent due to injury. It's a shame that the final could not have been scheduled at another time so Hampshire could have fielded a better bowling attack.
10. While there were periods of the game when the crowd was subdued and the cricket offered little excitement this was easily compensated for by the nail-biting finish. The weather was good unlike most of the season.
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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.