Worcestershire defeat Gloucestershire to reach T20 Finals Day for first time

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Worcestershire ended 15 years of T20 heartache after beating Gloucestershire by five wickets in a tense, low-scoring Vitality Blast quarter-final at New Road.

After five defeats at the knockout stage, the Rapids will make their first appearance on Finals Day at Edgbaston on September 15, leaving Derbyshire as the only county not to have featured in the T20 showpiece.

Callum Ferguson, with the only half-century of the match, steered the hosts through a nervy start and reached an unbeaten 64 from 47 balls as Worcestershire overhauled Gloucestershire’s 136 for eight with eight balls to spare.

What was a comfortable margin in the end was not looking likely when three Gloucestershire seamers each took a wicket in their first over.

Moeen Ali was leg-before to Matt Taylor’s first ball, Joe Clarke holed out to mid-wicket from AJ Tye’s fourth delivery and Brett D’Oliveira found midwicket from Benny Howell’s second.

Fortunately for Worcestershire they had Ferguson to ease the tension, reaching his 50 from 33 balls with six fours. The Australian’s cool head was as much the difference between the sides as Gloucestershire not scoring enough runs.

Callum Ferguson
Callum Ferguson saw things through to the end for Worcestershire (David Davies/PA)

In the crucial 16th over bowled by David Payne, Whiteley hit two sixes and the total was topped up by two wides and two no-balls until the left-hander was caught at deep cover from what was the 10th delivery.

Ferguson then ensured there were no late wobbles for the Rapids to cap off a performance that had started with an impressive fightback by the home side’s bowlers.

It seemed that Gloucestershire were unable to shake off a loss of momentum, having suffered defeats in their last two games before taking the final qualifying position in the South Group.

Their batting was distinctly top heavy, the free and easy hitting by Miles Hammond merely a preliminary for a disjointed retreat in which they lost seven wickets for 60 runs in the second half of the innings.

The disparity was such that the first three in the order, Hammond (45 from 31 balls), Michael Klinger (24 from 23) and Ian Cockbain (35 from 29), were responsible for more than three-quarters of the total.

As soon as Worcestershire took pace off the ball, five wickets were shared by D’Oliveira, the leg-spinner recording his competition-best of four for 26, and Daryl Mitchell, with his underrated cutters causing problems in a spell of one for 15.

They were backed up by a high standard in the field. Ed Barnard held three catches on the long-on area and it was his direct hit from short cover, running out Cockbain, which took away Gloucestershire’s chance of a meaningful recovery.

Yet they had promised so much against the quicker bowlers. Hammond, with one 50 in the competition this season, looked set for another as his clean striking brought the left-hander five fours and two sixes.

However, he was tempted into an unnecessary risk when opting for the reverse sweep and falling lbw to Mitchell’s fourth ball.

From there it quickly became a procession. Klinger picked out Barnard in D’Oliveira’s first over and in no time half the side had gone for 97. After the front three, Gareth Roderick was the only player to reach double figures.

Worcestershire captain Moeen said he was “very proud” of his young team in breaking the county’s run of misfortune in previous quarter-finals.

“It is really fantastic for the players to reach the finals particularly
after they (Gloucestershire) got off to such a fantastic start,” he said.

“It is a first time for the club and it is a great feeling for the boys.”

Worcestershire skipper Moeen Ali
Worcestershire skipper Moeen Ali was proud of his young side’s efforts (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It was one of those days. We kept getting out and couldn’t get that momentum.

“It was a good learning experience but disappointing. We came
here expecting to win and expecting to be in Finals Day.”

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