Man-of-the-match Laurie Evans feared he had cost Birmingham Bears the chance to lift their first NatWest T20 Blast title late on in last night’s thrilling four-run win over Lancashire Lightning.
The 26-year-old had revived the Bears with a blistering 53 from 30 balls – to set a testing target of 181 for five – but a dropped catch soon filled his mind with self doubts when Lancashire embarked on their chase.
Evans shelled a chance in the deep off Karl Brown when he was on just one, and then watched on in horror as the Lancashire right-hander accelerated to his own half-century.
With Andrew Flintoff then threatening to pull off a fairytale finish, when he launched back-to-back sixes in the penultimate over, Evans admitted he feared the worst.
But a nerveless final over from England all-rounder Chris Woakes ensured Evans and his team-mates were able to worry only about celebrating a memorable win in front of their home crowd at Edgbaston.
“I don’t know how I managed to put that catch down,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“He (Brown) kept going and when he was hitting six after six my heart was sinking and I just didn’t want to let the guys down.
“I’m just so glad we got over the line. The boys bowled so well. Everyone has put in a performance over the course of how many games there is. I’m just so thrilled to get over the line.”
Lancashire had appeared too far behind the rate until Flintoff wound back the clock to thump the otherwise impressive Oliver Hannon-Dalby over the ropes.
That left Lancashire needing 14 from the final over with Flintoff threatening to be the hero on the ground where he enjoyed one of his finest Ashes moments in 2005.
“It was all set up for him,” Evans said.
“Wouldn’t it have been nice for him to do it. Everyone knows he’s been a legend – he got the biggest roar of the day and it’s our own turf.”
But Woakes crucially did not allow a boundary in his final over – after the Bears had narrowly avoided a six-run time penalty – and Flintoff was left to watch on from the non-striker’s end as spinner Stephen Parry failed to hit the last ball for six.
“Woakesy at the end – nerves of steel,” Evans said.
“He’s come on so much as he’s shown in the Test arena now.”
Ian Bell described the Bears’ success as “unbelievable” after he was released from England duties to appear for his county.
“To win Finals Day is huge but to do it at home is unbelievable,” said Bell, who was due in for England training today ahead of the first Royal London One-Day International Series opener with India in Bristol tomorrow.
“The guys should enjoy it – a few of us have got a bit of training tomorrow. It was a great day for Warwickshire.
“It’s nice to pop in for one day of Twenty20 after the lads do all the hard work over a season.
“It’s brilliant any time to come in and play for the club. When you win a trophy it means just as much as when you win for England.”