Vitality T20 Blast - 25 August 2018
Worcestershire beat Gloucestershire by 5 wickets
Venue: Blackfinch New Road, Worcester
Worcestershire v Gloucestershire
One of the endearing factors in cricket is the friendships that are made worldwide at the top level. For six years Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger played at South Australia with Callum Ferguson, and it was his old team mate who ultimately decided the Vitality T20 Blast quarter final in Worcestershire's favour at Blackfinch New Road as Gloucestershire were defeated by 5 wickets.
The result, however, was in the balance until the 16th over of Worcestershire's reply to a Gloucestershire total of 136-8 when Ross Whiteley struck two sixes off David Payne. The over, although it also included Whiteley's wicket, cost 22 runs and left Worcestershire under no scoreboard pressure to find the remaning runs they needed, winning in the end with eight balls to spare.
The Gloucestershire innings, which had started brightly, found no answer in the middle overs to Brett D'Oliveira's leg spin, as the all rounder took 4-26. Helped by four misely overs at the other end from Daryl Mitchell, Gloucestershire went eight overs without a boundary and could only post a modest score after being put into bat.
Watch Michael Klinger's post match thoughts here:
Gloucestershire made one change to the team beaten in the final group game at Southampton, with the injured Kieran Noema-Barnett replaced by Matt Taylor to keep six bowlers in the side. It meant Ryan Higgins and Jack Taylor were pushed one place up the order, although for a while it appeared as if their roles may be little more than cameo affairs as Miles Hammond and Michael Klinger gave Gloucestershire a good start.
Hammond's aggressive batting at the top of the order had been one of the successes of the campaign and against Luke Wood and Wayne Parnell he was again soon striking the ball cleanly, lofting Wood over mid wicket for six in the third over and clearing the point boundary off Patrick Brown's first ball. Worcestershire captain Moeen Ali brought himself on in the powerplay, but Hammond greeted him with a reverse sweep and Ed Barnard was swatted over mid off as he made 44 of 63 runs alongside Klinger in only 7 overs.
Hammond's departure - lbw to Daryl Mitchell for 45 - appeared a minor blip with Klinger seemingly untroubled at the other end, but Daryl Mitchell and Brett D'Oliveira took a grip on the game with tight bowling at one end and wickets at the other.
From 76-1 at half distance, the ball seemed to follow Worcestershire's Ed Barnard like a magnet in the field. He was at long on to catch Klinger off D'Oliveira for 24, and was again in the right place as Ryan Higgins tried to raise the Gloucestershire run rate. Benny Howell had already been caught and bowled by the leg spinner, and when Jack Taylor was bowled by one that kept low Gloucestershire were 97-5.
Ian Cockbain's first boundary brought up the 100 in the 16th over, and a straight six off D'Oliveira promised a late rally until Barnard's direct hit at the wicket keeper's end ran him out for for 35. Barnard's third catch, which accounted for Roderick in the final over, again proved the value of reliable fielders and limited Gloucestershire to only 136-8 before rain delayed the resumption by more than an hour.
Successfully defending such a low total would have seen a victory rank as one of Gloucestershire most memorable T20 wins, and for a while Worcestershire had things far from their own way as Moeen Ali was lbw to Matt Taylor's first ball and Joe Clarke clipped Andrew Tye to Hammond at mid wicket.
Hunting wickets early, skipper Klinger turned to Benny Howell as soon as the powerplay was over, and Tye's juggling catch to remove D'Oliveira certainly increased the tension around the ground. The same combination accounted for Ben Cox and with leg spinner Jacob Lintott's first two overs costing only ten runs Callum Ferguson became the game's key figure.
The 33 year old had only a single to his name when he drove Matt Taylor down the ground in the second over, and he worked Taylor past mid on and point for further boundaries in the powerplay before going on to neatly compile a half century from 33 balls, pulling a short ball from Higgins to mid wicket in the 14th over. If he stayed Worcestershire looked well placed to win, and it was a chanceless innings although one that needed some help to secure the result.
Ross Whiteley provided it with Worcestershire left to score 41 from the last five overs. With his hand tactically forced, Klinger had opted to bowl Howell through and Tye had only one over left when Whiteley drove David Payne down the ground for six and picked up a full length ball to clear the rope at square leg. Miles Hammond held a catch at deep cover to remove Whiteley for 20, but with another ten runs coming from the same over the damage was done.
Ferguson stayed to make 64 not out, and Barnard - the scourge of Gloucestershire in the field - kept him company at the end as Gloucestershire fell one hurdle short of Finals Day for the second time in three seasons.