T20 Blast: Birmingham Bears edge out Lancashire in Edgbaston final
|NatWest T20 Blast final, Edgbaston|
|Birmingham Bears 181-5 (20 overs) beat Lancashire 177-8 (20 overs) by four runs|
Birmingham Bears made home advantage count as they beat Lancashire by four runs at Edgbaston to win the T20 Blast.
Andrew Flintoff dismissed Ian Bell with his first delivery, but Laurie Evans hit 53 off 30 balls, including four sixes, to see the home side to 181-5.
Karl Brown made 55 in Lancashire's run chase, only for seamer Oliver Hannon-Dalby (3-31) to check their progress.
Flintoff hit two successive sixes in an unbeaten 20, but lost the strike in the last over as Lancashire ended on 177-8.
|County champions: 1911, 1951, 1972, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2012||B&H Cup: 1994, 2002|
|Gillette/NatWest Trophy: 1966, 1968, 1989, 1993, 1995||Sunday League: 1980, 1994, 1997|
|CB40: 2010||T20 Blast: 2014|
Both sides went into the game looking to win their first domestic T20 crown.
The Bears, then using their traditional Warwickshire name, lost the inaugural final to Surrey in 2003 and Lancashire were beaten by Somerset two years later.
The inclusion of Flintoff for the injured Kabir Ali after ending his four-year retirement from the game earlier this summer added an extra frisson of excitement to the contest.
The crowd did not have to wait long for the big all-rounder to make an impact as he took the ball for the third over and former England team-mate Bell immediately lofted a catch to Brown running back on the boundary.
Varun Chopra (30) and William Porterfield (31) steadied the innings before Flintoff was withdrawn after taking 1-20 in two overs.
Rikki Clarke then made 27 before Evans and Chris Woakes added 63 in five and a half overs to see the Bears to a challenging total.
Evans fell to the final ball of the penultimate over, bowled by Tom Smith (2-30), but Woakes ended the innings with two successive fours off James Anderson, whose four wicketless overs cost him 52 runs.
|The waiting goes on..|
|Lancashire have now reached Finals Day on five occasions but have yet to go home with the trophy - they lost in the 2005 final and were beaten semi-finalists in 2004, 2007 and 2011.|
Lancashire, needing to make a record T20 final score if they were to triumph, made a useful start before Smith (19) was caught by Evans after getting a leading edge to a ball from Woakes.
Ashwell Prince, who made an unbeaten 72 in the semi-final win over Hampshire, then played on to Boyd Rankin after making 30.
Hannon-Dalby claimed the vital wicket of England's Jos Buttler, caught behind for 11, and there was a show of frustration from Paul Horton when he was given out caught behind off Jeetan Patel, TV replays suggesting that the ball had come off his thigh pad.
Evans then dropped Brown in the deep as Lancashire's top scorer tried to keep them up with the required rate.
When he was finally bowled by Woakes (2-34), allowing Flintoff to belatedly stride to the middle at number nine, they seemingly had too much to do.
But, in a show of typical 'Freddie' theatrics, the 36-year-old biffed Hannon-Dalby for two big sixes to leave his side needing 14 from the final over.
He crucially lost the strike, however, and the task of hitting a six off the final ball to win the match proved beyond Stephen Parry.
Bears all-rounder Chris Woakes:
"There was some good striking at the end there and it's just great to close it out.
"Your heart is going for the whole 20 overs. You know you're not that far away from the trophy but there's still a lot of work to do.
"I'm just delighted for all the boys who have put in work over the whole tournament, not just today."
Lancashire captain Paul Horton:
"All credit to Warwickshire, they've had a fantastic campaign. They had a wonderful win in the quarter-finals and a great win today.
"We felt at the half-way point we could get them. It was a good wicket. It's just a shame we didn't get over the line.
"A couple of things didn't go our way and that's the game, but all credit to Warwickshire."