T20 Blast Finals Day: Kent Emerge Victorious

The 2021 edition of England’s premier T20 cricket competition has drawn to a close. On the T20 Blast Finals Day on 18 September 2021, four counties headed to Edgbaston for the showdown. Kent Spitfires, Somerset, Sussex Sharks and Hampshire Hawks are all former champions though a decade or more has passed since some won the competition. Of the four, the most recent title holders, Hampshire, won it in 2012.

The first semifinal featured the James Vince-led Hampshire versus Somerset who last won the competition in 2005. The teams famously met in the 2010 final that ended in a tie before Hampshire, who lost fewer wickets, were declared winners. Kent and Sussex faced off in the 2nd semifinal. In this article, we review the semifinals and the title clash.

First Semifinal: Hampshire vs Somerset

How Hampshire Qualified

Hampshire last made it to the T20 Blast Finals Day in 2017. Skipper James Vince has led his side from the front with 371 runs scored at a strike rate of 138.43. Vince earlier led Southern Brave to the title in the men’s Hundred. Hampshire’s bowlers stood up to be counted in the quarterfinal game versus Notts. Vince’s wards were looking to seamers Brad Wheal and Chris Wood, as well as spin duo Mason Crane and Liam Dawson, to deliver in the semifinal.

How Somerset Qualified

Somerset got to the last four with three successive wins. They reached the last four on the back of skipper Tom Abell’s 78 not out in quarterfinal against Lancashire Lightning. Other batsmen who shone for Somerset in the run-up to the Finals Day are Tom Banton, Tom Lammonby and Will Smeed.

Among their bowlers, Roelof van der Merwe returned figures of 4 for 27 to contribute to their quarterfinal victory over Lancashire Lightning. While Somerset would look for another match-winning spell from the veteran spinner, they would also expect Marchant de Lange to make a difference with his tearaway pace.

How the Semifinal Went

In the first semifinal on 18 September 2021, Hampshire batted first. They were off to a bad start, losing three wickets for only 26 runs. Nevertheless, thanks to a couple of mini partnerships, they recovered somewhat to 80 for 3 in 12 overs. Under the circumstances, they did well to get to 150 all out on the last ball of the innings. Joe Weatherley, who was 9th out, held the innings together with a top score of 71 from 50 balls. For Somerset, Josh Davey was the most impressive bowler and returned figures of 4 for 34.

Chasing a modest target, Somerset were off to a poor start and were reduced to 5 for 34 in the 7th over. Like Hampshire before them, they benefited from a couple of partnerships that took them to the relatively better position of 103 for 6 in the 17th over. But not too many would have backed Somerset to get the 48 more runs that they needed. However, Ben Green had other ideas. He made 35 from 18 balls with three sixes. When Green got out, his side needed 12 more runs from 7 balls. In the event, Somerset got over the line with 2 wickets and 2 balls to spare. Tom Abell made a top score with 50 from 35. For Hampshire, Chris Wood and Scott Currie took two wickets each.

Second Semifinal: Kent vs Sussex

How Kent Qualified

In the quarterfinal versus Birmingham Bears, Kent batted first. After losing two wickets for only 44 runs in the powerplay, they recovered to 104 for 3 in the 15th over. But a flurry of late wickets saw them restricted to 162/7, in which Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Billings made fifties. Tim Bresnan took four wickets for Bears.

In their reply, Birmingham stuttered from the start and were reduced to 6/55 in the 11th over. They never recovered and were bowled out for 141 on the last ball. Jake Lintott (41) was the top scorer for Birmingham, while Matt Milnes took 4/24 for Kent.

How Sussex Qualified

In their quarterfinal against Yorkshire, Sussex fielded first. Yorkshire, helped by fifties from Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Gary Ballance, posted a decent total of 177/7. For Sussex, Tymal Mills took 3/39 to emerge their best bowler of the match.

Sussex were helped in their reply by a first-wicket stand of 72 in 8.3 overs. Building on that platform, they got to the target with five wickets and two balls to spare. While their captain Luke Wright was the top scorer for Sussex with 54 from 39 balls, Jordan Thompson (3/28) was Yorkshire’s most successful bowler.

How the Second Semifinal Went

In the second semifinal between Kent and Sussex, Kent batted first. Though they lost a couple of wickets in the powerplay, they maintained their run rate and were well placed at 93 for 2 in the 11th over. But a flurry of wickets saw them reduced to 94 for 5 in the 12th. But thanks to a rearguard innings of 47 from 28 balls by Darren Stevens, Kent managed to reach 168/8 in their allotted overs. Opener Daniel Bell-Drummond made a top score with 82 from 51 balls. For Sussex, Tymal Mills took 3/33 to emerge their most successful bowler on the day.

When Sussex replied, they did not get off to the best possible start, losing 4 wickets for 43 by the 8th over. A regular loss of wickets saw them reduced to 6 for 89 in the 14th. At 119 for 6 in the 16th over, the target appeared gettable, with a well-set George Garton at the crease. However, as it transpired, Sussex were bowled out for 147 with 5 balls to spare. Garton made 41 from 23 balls, a top score, while Kent’s Fred Klaasen who took 4 for 17 was their best bowler.

Final: Kent Beat Somerset to Emerge Champions

In the final between Kent and Somerset, Kent batted first. They got off to a reasonable start putting on 44 runs for the first wicket. A flurry of wickets saw them reduced to 52 for 3 in the 8th over. The innings followed a similar pattern to Kent’s performance in the semifinal against Sussex. Some late order resilience saw the score mount to 141 for 6 in the 19th. Some sensational hitting by Jordan Cox got the score up to 167/7. Cox made a top score with 58 not out from 28 balls. For Somerset, Roelof van der Merwe took 3/19.

Somerset did not get off to good start in their chase of 168 to win, losing two wickets for only three runs.  In the 9th over, a third-wicket partnership took them to the relative comfort of 61 for 3. At one point, Somerset were placed at 79 for 3 in the 11th over. After a mini-collapse, they found themselves in dire straits at 95 for 7 in the 15th over. They never recovered from that position and were eventually restricted to 142/9, handing Kent a well-earned victory and the title. For Somerset, opener Will Smeed was the top scorer with 43 from 32 balls. For Kent, Joe Denly who took 3/31 was the most impressive bowler.


The ECB has relied on the performances in the T20 Blast competition while naming the England squad for the T20 Cricket World Cup.