|Vitality Blast Final, Edgbaston|
|Kent Spitfires 167-7: Cox 58*, Crawley 41; Van der Merwe 3-19|
|Somerset 142-9: Smeed 43; Denly 3-31, Qais 2-19|
|Kent Spitfires won by 25 runs|
Kent Spitfires proved too strong for Somerset under the Edgbaston lights as they won the 2021 T20 Blast by 25 runs.
After beating Sussex by 21 runs in the semi-final, Kent put in an incredible fielding display in the final as they beat 2005 winners – and now four-times beaten finalists – Somerset.
Jordan Cox, with 58 not out off 28 balls, and England’s Zak Crawley (41) were the stars in Kent’s 167-7.
But Somerset fell short on 142-9 as 2007 victors Kent won a second title.
It is 14 years since Kent won their only previous T20 title, beating Gloucestershire, also at Edgbaston. And two of their team that day, 45-year-old Darren Stevens in the semi-final, and 35-year-old Joe Denly, with three wickets in the final, played big roles.
Kent got off to a poor start when spinner Roelof van der Merwe got stuck into their top order, just as he had done to Lancashire in last month’s quarter-final.
Crawley began the recovery before Cox took over responsibilities, first playing the supporting role in a 36-run stand with Jack Leaning, then marshalling the rest of the batters to a defendable total.
Somerset, reeling from their poor red-ball form since the County Championship season resumed, had performed a near miracle earlier in the day to recover from 79-6 to rescue a two-wicket semi-final win over Hampshire.
Despite 43 from teenager Will Smeed on the ground where he had starred for Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred this summer, there was to be no second great escape.
Smeed rebuilt after Somerset fell to 3-2 in a risk-free 58-run stand with Tom Abell (26), who was snared at backward point.
The 19-year-old then survived being caught on the boundary in a hugely controversial moment. Cox claimed the catch but was then clattered into by a sliding Daniel Bell-Drummond who touched the boundary cushion while their legs were in contact.
Third umpire Neil Bainton not only adjudged it not out but also a six. Although just three balls later Smeed was not given a second life when he holed out again to Cox, this time without any hint of controversy.
In another incredible piece of action in the field, Cox then raced around the boundary to make a giant leap at Lewis Gregory’s huge leg-side swat and palm it back to Matt Milnes with one hand, who completed the catch in front of a disbelieving Eric Hollies Stand.
It was part of five wickets which went down for 34 in the middle overs. And, with Denly and Qais Ahmad dovetailing to produce the best return for any spinners in a T20 final, with a combined analysis of 5-50, that sealed Kent’s deserved success.
Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra:
“I’m not generally a man of few words but I feel pretty speechless. It’s days like this that I’m still playing the game for.
“We’ve been pretty consistent all the way through but Jordan Cox was outstanding to get us to that total and I’ve never seen anything like his catch before.
“I’ve not been in the T20 side for four years but I told the coach I wanted to play all forms and I’ve changed my game a bit.”
Somerset T20 skipper Lewis Gregory:
“It is disappointing to be on the wrong side of the result and unfortunately we didn’t bring our best stuff today. We were well short and were beaten by the better side.
“As frustrating as it was, it was an unbelievable piece of fielding (from Jordan Cox) to get me out. He has had a bit of a day out. It peed me off, to be honest. The athleticism you see nowadays is special.
“Last year we used this competition to have a look at a few guys, blood a few of the youngsters and given them a bit of experience. We’ve had payback for that this year. The youngsters are putting in match-winning performances.
“There are a few areas to iron out and get better at but over the next few years we have a real chance to be a dominant force in this format.”