Ben Duckett and Dan Christian lead Nottinghamshire to second T20 Blast title with victory over Surrey

Tim Wigmore
·3-min read
Ben Duckett and Dan Christian celebrate - GETTY IMAGES
Ben Duckett and Dan Christian celebrate - GETTY IMAGES

Perhaps it would have been an apt epitaph for 2020 if the English cricket season, dragged by circumstances into October for the first time ever, had ended in the farce of bowl-outs to determine the winner of the T20 Blast.

But the indefatigable efforts of the Edgbaston ground staff, and some more clement weather on the reserve day, ensured that unsatisfactory denouement was avoided.

Instead, the English season culminated in the country’s most imposing batting line-up, Nottinghamshire, securing their second T20 Blast title in four years. It was the ultimate mark of their batting heft that they were even able to absorb a calamitous start, losing their top three by the fourth over against a revved-up Surrey attack.

Yet, as it transpired, the early collapse merely allowed Ben Duckett a chance to remind English cricket of his multifarious talents. While Duckett stumbled in four Test matches in the subcontinent in 2016, he appears the latest cricketer to have improved under Peter Moores’s careful stewardship.

Even a game truncated to 16 overs a side required Duckett to showcase the range of his batsmanship. His adventurous shot-making has never been in doubt but the savviness with which Duckett marshalled Notts’s chase hinted at a new steel. Duckett’s match-winning 53 not out, sealed with consecutive crunches to the leg side, put the seal on an exceptional personal summer.

Defending 128 from their 16 overs, which had the feeling of being under-par, Surrey were revved-up as Gareth Batty attempted to lead them to a T20 Blast triumph aged 42. Reece Topley showed the new ball venom that earned him an international recall after four years this summer, while off spinner Will Jacks continued his transformation from locum to lethal in T20 by snaring Joe Clarke and Samit Patel within the first nine balls of his spell.

But the potency of this Notts batting line-up is such that 19-3 off 3.3 overs does not invite the same sense of doom that it would for other teams; after all, Imad Wasim was pencilled in to bat as low as nine. At 39 and playing his first T20 game of the year, Peter Trego went a long way to ensuring that he would not taste defeat in the T20 Blast for a fourth time by harrumphing 31. All the while Duckett largely eschewed risk.

While Surrey were uncharacteristically slapdash in the field, conceding four no-balls and six wides as their bowlers struggled with the evening dew, it is on the beginning and end of their own innings that they would reflect with most frustration.

Laurie Evans, who has just rejoined his boyhood club, matched Jason Roy’s power in their third-wicket stand of 90. But when the two threatened to take Surrey towards 150, Surrey reproduced Hashim Amla’s stuttering efforts in labouring ten balls over his three. With Dan Christian showcasing his savvy at the death and Jake Ball - an England limited overs cricketer only two years ago - going round the wicket to great effect, Surrey mustered just 16 from the last three overs. It had the feel of being a decisive juncture in the game.

After hitting four consecutive sixes in their semi-final win over Lancashire and taking three wickets in Surrey’s innings, Christian swatted an undefeated 21 to support Duckett in Notts’s gallop to victory. Christian faces an arduous journey to get home - flying to Sydney via the UAE, before having to drive himself back home to Melbourne due to quarantine restrictions. It will be all the more palatable taking a winner’s medal with him.