Joe Clarke helps Worcestershire blast to victory at Edgbaston
Shropshire's Joe Clarke and Ed Barnard played key roles as Worcestershire won the competition for the first time.
Joe Clarke hit a crucial 33 as Moeen Ali led underdogs Worcestershire to glory on their first appearance at Vitality Blast Finals Day.
Clarke, who grew up playing cricket in Oswestry, shared an opening stand of 61 with Moeen before Ben Cox guided Worcestershire to a rousing five-wicket victory at a sold-out Edgbaston.
Moeen 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.
Worcestershire, led by former Shropshire coach Kevin Sharp, had reached the final by defeating Lancashire, with an unbeaten Cox half-century a sign of things to come.
Under the lights Sussex then 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 Clarke kept the boundaries coming as they reached 53 for nought in six overs.
England hopeful Clarke, who's made six appearances for Oswestry in the Birmingham Premier League this summer, made 33 off 27 balls before being caught behind via a thin edge off Danny Briggs.
And it was Briggs and fellow spinner Will Beer who turned momentum in Sussex's favour after a wicketless powerplay.
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 22-year-old Clarke and then Brett D’Oliveira with a sharp stumping, while Beer made light work of Tom Fell.
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.
Meanwhile ex-Shrewsbury all-rounder Ed Barnard was not out on one off two balls after taking 1-28 off his three overs in Sussex's innings.
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.
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