The day began with headlines that an unnamed Australian cricketer called him “Osama” during the Ashes
Moeen Ali led underdogs Worcestershire to glory on their first appearance at Vitality Blast Finals Day, with Ben Cox and Pat Brown sharing the spotlight in a rousing win over Sussex at a sold-out Edgbaston.
Moeen began the day in the headlines after claims he was called “Osama” by an unnamed Australian player and ended it in ecstasy after captaining his county to a famous five-wicket victory.
The England all-rounder hit a vital 41 as well as taking three important wickets in the final, but the plaudits go equally to Brown, for a stunningly effective spell of four overs for 15 runs, and Cox who stood tall at the close with a match-winning 46 not out.
Cox stared down the much-vaunted Jofra Archer at the denouement, slamming the seamer for six and four in the penultimate over to cap a brilliant knock.
All three of Worcestershire’s stars had already turned in fine shows in the semi-final defeat of Lancashire, Cox with an unbeaten half-century that gave a hint of things to come.
Sussex had set an under-powered 157 for six but banked on their all-star attack taking care of business.
Despite offering due respect to Archer, Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan, Moeen and Joe Clarke kept the boundaries coming as they reached 53 for nought in six overs.
After a wicketless powerplay Sussex needed results from spinners Danny Briggs and Will Beer.
The former started inauspiciously, flogged for six by Moeen, but the turning ball soon began to take effect.
From 61 without loss it was soon 82 for three. Briggs and wicketkeeper Michael Burgess combined to see off Clarke for 33 via a thin edge and Brett D’Oliveira with a sharp stumping, while Beer made light work of Tom Fell.
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Moeen was the key but he departed long before the job was done, punching Beer to long-off.
The Pears needed 49 for five overs, 42 from four and 31 from three but all the while Cox was positioning himself.
Archer was the bowler to blink, hurling six no-balls down leg, then watching passively as Cox smashed the free hit for six more and heaved the winning boundary to long leg.
Sussex had posted the highest score of the day in their semi-final win over Somerset – 202 – but had to settle for 45 fewer against well-drilled Worcestershire unit.
Nineteen-year-old Brown, already buoyed by his four for 21 in the semi, was the difference-maker.
His four-overs, split between the powerplay and the death, cost a miserly 15 runs as batsmen queued up to be bamboozled by his ‘knuckle ball’ and regular shifts in pace.
In all he banked 13 dot balls and leaked a solitary boundary. Moeen also performed a crucial role through the middle, taking three for 30.
Having already picked off his England colleague Jos Buttler in game one, Moeen’s attacking lines and nerveless demeanour again paid dividends as he picked off the dangerous trio of Luke Wright, Delray Rawlins and David Wiese.
Wright had earlier hit the biggest score in finals day history, 92, but was cleaned up for 33 when Moeen spun a delivery sharply into his off stump.
The Blast’s leading run-scorer Laurie Evans provided the backbone of the total, carving out a measured 52 from 44 balls before losing his cool – and his bails – with an ill-conceived lap sweep at Ed Barnard.