Ravi Bopara says Essex’s first T20 title success ‘means everything’ to Eagles
Long-serving all-rounder Ravi Bopara says Essex Eagles’ maiden Vitality Blast triumph ‘means everything’ after he steered them to a four-wicket victory in the final against Worcestershire Rapids.
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The 34-year-old has spent his entire career at Essex, winning County Championship and one-day honours – but was yet to sample success in the shortest form of the game prior to Finals Day.
However, Bopara’s unbeaten 36 from 22 balls lifted the Eagles after a mid-innings slump at Edgbaston and they chased down Worcestershire’s total of 145-9, with Simon Harmer hitting the winning boundary off the final ball.
“It means everything,” said the former England international. “I’ve been saying to everyone, it’s the one trophy we don’t have in our cabinet and we’ve finally got it.
“This has ticked it off nicely. You expect the bowling team to win in that situation but you know they’re under pressure, so you’ve got to work that in your favour.
“On one side was a big boundary and I just said in that (penultimate) Wayne Parnell over ‘I don’t care if we just get six’ – there was a shorter boundary from the other end.”
The Eagles had looked unlikely to even qualify for the knockout stages until a late surge, with four wins and a tie from their last five group matches, enabled them to squeeze through on run rate.
But they took advantage of that second chance, overcoming fancied Lancashire Lightning in the last eight before beating Derbyshire Falcons in the semi-final and going on to snatch the trophy from holders Worcestershire.
Captain Harmer was also a key figure in the Eagles’ success, taking 3-16 with the ball before joining Bopara at the crease and keeping his cool to score a match-winning 18 not out from just seven deliveries.
Somerset vs Essex
September 23, 2019, 10:15am
Team-mate Ryan ten Doeschate, who preceded Harmer as skipper, said: “He’s just changed the mindset and been really positive and he’s shown a lot of faith in some of the young guys who haven’t played much.
“Even when we looked dead and buried, with four games to go, he kept saying ‘trust me boys, it’s on – just keep going, keep going.
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