SIMON HARMER hailed a “special night” as he guided Essex Eagles to their first T20 title with a stunning final-ball victory over holders Worcestershire Rapids.
The South African spinner played a cameo role with both bat and ball as Essex successfully chased down Worcestershire’s 145-9, despite being reduced to 82-5 at one stage.
Harmer, who had earlier taken 3-16 in the Rapids innings, smashed 18 off just seven balls – including four off the last ball – as he and Ravi Bopara (36no) helped the Eagles to a famous victory.
Worcestershire had faced the same situation of two needed to win off the last ball in their semi-final win over Nottinghamshire Outlaws.
But Wayne Parnell could not repeat his earlier dot ball, as Harmer carved him to the square cover boundary to seal a four-wicket victory.
Essex will now be looking to complete the T20/County Championship double this week when they face Somerset in a division one title decider.
But acting skipper Harmer insists winning this was on their mind first and foremost.
“We said at the beginning of the competition everybody from the club to the supporters it’s always been about the Championship and we’re just happy to be in the T20 but I really really wanted that,” said Harmer after the Eagles had earlier saw off Derbyshire Falcons by 34 runs in their semi-final.
“It was one of those days were everything came off, my bowling and my batting, it’s a special night.
“Obviously being my first as captain and to finish it like that, it doesn’t get any better.”
One-club man Ravi Bopara, who has been at Essex for 17 years, was choking back the tears later, adding: “Unbelievable, it’s the one trophy we didn’t have in the cabinet.
“I’ve won everything else with Essex and this was the one I was desperate for.”