Champions League in Wood's path
Chris Wood will be on a hat-trick when he next bowls in Twenty20 cricket, likely to be at the Champions League T20 qualifier in South Africa which Hampshire yesterday earned a place in.
The 22-year-old left-arm seamer took three wickets in the last over of yesterday evening’s Friends Life t20 final, in which the Royals beat Yorkshire by 10 runs at the SWALEC Stadium, including two from the last two balls.
With the White Rose requiring 14 to reach a target of 151, Wood immediately caused England all-rounder Tim Bresnan to sky a catch to point. Having conceded three runs from his next three deliveries, Richard Pyrah played on and Azeem Rafiq was bowled.
Wood, whose figures were 3-26 from four overs, started celebrating as soon as he knew his final ball was legitimate and had earned Hampshire a second Twenty20 crown in three years. Unlike in 2010, when there was a clash with the end of the domestic season, Wood is this time due to play in the global T20 competition.
“I’ve trained all winter, all summer to land those yorkers in the hole right at the end of the innings and luckily for me today it’s paid off, which wins us two trophies out of three in three years,” he told ecb.co.uk.
Asked when in the nail-biting last over he thought Hampshire had secured victory, he replied: “Not until that last ball to be honest.
“When I bowled Pyrah out I thought ‘yeah, this was a good chance’ but obviously you never know in cricket so I made sure I was behind that line and bowled it down there. Wherever it went it didn’t matter and luckily enough that was it.”
Replying to Hampshire’s 150 for six, Yorkshire were in trouble at 47 for four after nine overs with Wood having conceded 12 from his first two sets of six.
South Africa’s David Miller then launched a stunning fightback, including five sixes and as many fours which carried him to an unbeaten 72 from 46 deliveries.
One of those fours and sixes came in Wood’s third over, which cost 13, but the youngster had no qualms about bowling the last.
“I was actually enjoying it to be honest,” he said.
“If I could win the game for us there - when they were probably favourites going into the last over with David Miller hitting it as well as he was - I was relishing the opportunity of bowling those yorkers. Luckily it was my day and we’ve come away with the trophy.”
Miller, who has played 16 one-day and eight Twenty20 internationals, was rightly man of the match.
“He played awesome,” Wood added. “He took it to us and nearly paid off for them in the end. He nearly won them the game with an absolute unbelievable innings.
“The wicket was conducive to bowling and he was out there whacking sixes in the middle of his innings, really putting us under the pump. So unlucky to him. He played what some would say a match-winning knock there. Unfortunately the boys around him just didn’t stay there long enough.”
Wood was expensive in his previous t20 final, going for 51 in four wicketless overs versus Somerset. However, he rates that triumph - via a tie on his home ground - just ahead of this one.
“It’s up there, for sure. Winning the first one - for me that was my first one so it’ll probably stick in the memory for a long time but this is a very, very close second for sure,” he explained.
With Hampshire chasing LV= County Championship promotion and on course for a Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final, this season could get better yet.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he enthused. “We shortened our squad from about 24 to about 18 this year so we’re a real tight-knit group and everyone wants to be in it for each other.
“We’ve just won this competition and we’re still in the hunt for two more, so if we can make this an unbelievable season and win two or three it’ll be brilliant.”