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Worcestershire win the Vitality Blast as Denly takes home MVP crown.
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A thrilling Finals Day saw Worcestershire come out on top of a packed Edgbaston with Ben Cox the star of the main event which when right to the wire. However, if Cox was the star it was Moeen Ali who was most certainly the MVP.
The 26-year-old wicket-keeper batsman smashed 46 off 27 balls saw the Rapids beat Sussex, with Cox seeing it home for the county. It was a special effort which has attracted plaudits on a national scale, with his talents really shining on the biggest stage of them all.
However, it was Moeen who will go down as the PCA MVP for his remarkable effort, which might be overshadowed initially, but will be fondly remembered from those who got to witness it.
The Worcestershire captain was the personification of calmness in both games, picking up the MVP award in the first semi-final with 24.13 points, and then collecting 24.94 to help his side win the Vitality Blast for the first time in their history.
Ali took 3-30 off his full allocation in the final, before opening the batting and smashing 41 to tee his side up for victory. This goes with his 41 in the semi-final as Worcestershire overcame Lancashire en-route to victory.
Pat Brown finished the Vitality Blast as the leading wicket-taker in the competition, with the 20-year-old using Finals Day to raise his stock in the cricketing world. His array of deliveries is staggering for a young fast bowler, and he proved a handful for Worcestershire and Sussex at Edgbaston.
He finished the 2018 Blast with a staggering 31 wickets at only 13.35 apiece. He also placed 11th in the MVP table for the shortest format of the game, but the exposure of the cameras on Finals Day will have made a lot of people sit up and truly take notice.
Special mention to Sussex captain Luke Wright who hit the highest score in Finals Day history with his knock of 92 as the Sharks beat Somerset. Wright is the second highest English T20 run-scorer and finished the semi with 25.75 points.
Perhaps the biggest crime of the Vitality Blast is that Joe Denly didn’t get a chance to add to his MVP points tally of 218.23. The Kent batsman scored 409 runs in the competition, including an epic hundred at the start of the competition.
Remarkably, he also took a hat-trick in that same game as he set the tempo for the rest of the circuit to match. Overall, he took 20 wickets at 16.75, with his leg-spin proving to be a key contributor to Kent’s run to the quarter-finals.
Denly’s MVP award in the Blast makes it a white-ball double for the 33-year-old, to go along with a dominant display in the One-Day Cup at the start of the summer. Leader of the Overall MVP award, he looks set to have a big £10,000 windfall come the end of the summer.
The Rapids star man has been youngster Pat Brown with the 20-year-old going into Finals Day as the top wicket taker in the entire competition. Taking 27 scalps at an average of 14 means he is the highest placed Worcestershire player in the MVP Rankings, sitting in 19th position.
It could be surprising to see Brown not firmly inside the top 10, however, the paceman has never scored a T20 run and has only faced six balls in his entire career. This means he has zero batting points and only two fielding points, the fewest in the top 20.
So despite currently top of the bowling stats according to the MVP, taking everything into account he has had a breakthrough season to remember and will be a key man if the Worcestershire are to go all the way.
However, Moeen Ali is arguably the key man for the Rapids. The all-rounder will captain his side on their first ever Finals Day and is fresh from winning the PCA Player of the Month for August and playing a key part in his country’s 4-1 victory over India.
Ultimately, Denly will be a tough man to overhaul at the top of the Blast MVP Rankings. He remarkably scored a hundred and took a hat-trick in the same game, and although his efforts were not enough to help the Spitfires to Finals Day, his form throughout the Blast proves he is worthy of his current position.
409 runs with the bat, 20 wickets with the ball and leading Kent to the quarter-finals. If Denly retains the top spot come Saturday night, he would have deserved it.
View the MVP Rankings here.