THE result may not have gone Yorkshire’s way, with the team losing to Durham in the semi-finals, but the overall T20 Finals Day experience was an enjoyable one at Edgbaston last week.
I certainly enjoyed it from a journalistic point of view; indeed, the facilities at Edgbaston, and the way that the press was catered for, was the best I have experienced in 16 years’ covering the sport.
Personally speaking, there are three things I need when I go to cover a match – somewhere to park, good working conditions (ie functioning wi-fi) and, most important of all, plenty of free food.
And, my, were we spoiled in that latter regard as Finals Day passed in a blur of more gastronomic treats than you could shake a wagging tongue at.
It was literally like a banquet out at the back of the press box, with several journalists unable to squeeze through the door afterwards, whereas they had positively glided in before start of play.
I jest, but the only way of coping with the reality of the weighing scales the following morning was to get blind drunk and try to forget about it.
On a serious note, Warwickshire County Cricket Club put on yet another superb show, despite unseasonably poor weather which, mercifully, did not detract too much from the cricket.
Many counties could learn a great deal from Warwickshire, not least in terms of matters such as parking, which could not have been more simple or efficiently handled, in stark contrast to the ‘jobsworth’ culture that you find at some venues.
It helps when you have a massive car park, of course, and I personally find Edgbaston to have the best facilities, press-wise, of any ground in the country, including Lord’s, and it would be remiss not to applaud Warwickshire for their efforts.
It would be remiss, too, not to applaud the players of Yorkshire, Notts, Durham and the eventual champions, Northants, for putting on an equally splendid show, with both semi-finals and the final living up to expectations.
There was some excellent cricket played and a number of top-quality international players on view – not least the Durham and England pace bowler Mark Wood, who took a T20 career-best 4-25 effectively to decide the semi-final against Yorkshire.
To watch Wood tie his international team-mate Joe Root up in knots was to watch one of the great spells of white-ball pace bowling.
At one stage, Root could not lay a bat on the 90mph bullets, and there was no disgrace in that against some inspired bowling.
Like journalism and ‘jobsworth’ car park attendants, the T20 Blast is much-maligned, and yet one cannot argue with the quality of the Finals Day showpiece.
The 14-match group stage, I would wager, is a bit too long, but Finals Day – no short affair itself – is always a great occasion.
Amid all the talk of city-based T20 cricket, there was irony aplenty in the success of Northants, who continually punch above their weight and who would not be hosting a city franchise.
Big-name signings are all well and good – ditto international players forced to dip in and out due to the hectic schedule – but there is much to be said for continuity and the well-honed skills that Northants showed en route to the title.