T20 Blast final: Worcestershire's Ben Cox praises team effort at Edgbaston

Worcestershire win T20 Blast
Ed Barnard and Ben Cox celebrate after Cox hit the wining runs against Sussex

Homegrown Worcestershire matchwinner Ben Cox says lifting the T20 Blast trophy at Edgbaston capped a week of great ups and downs.

Dropped for last week's County Championship defeat by new champions Surrey, the 26-year-old wicketkeeper responded in the right manner.

He ended Finals Day with a combined 101 runs, without losing his wicket.

And he was named man-of-the-match in both the semi-final win over Lancashire and the final against Sussex.

"It's been a tough week," he told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "As a professional, you go through emotions and this week I've had both low and high.

"To bounce back in the way I did, to put in two performances to help the club win a trophy. That is what means the most. But there were 11 of us out there. I just chipped in."

Cox's brilliant century in the One-Day Cup semi-final against Kent almost took Worcestershire to Lord's in June.

Since then, he has endured a run of poor form, especially in the T20, having made only 173 runs in 14 matches.

And the man whose first-class career began with an emergency call in September 2009 when he was allowed to skip lessons as as a 17-year-old Bromsgrove School pupil and marked the occasion with a half-century, insisted the platform for their win over Sussex in the T20 final was laid by his team-mates.

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T20 Blast final: Ben Cox leads Worcestershire Rapids to victory over Sussex Sharks

"We won the game in the first half thanks to the bowlers, Moeen Ali and Pat Brown especially, to keep them to 157-6," said 26-year-old Cox.

"Then Mo and Joe Clarke set the tone perfectly and we went from there.

"I found the slow bowlers were the hardest. I was waiting to get out of the back of both spinners and knew I'd be able to use the pace to go behind the wicket with ramps.

"Some days it comes off. I've had plenty when it doesn't and it goes straight to the keeper and you get bowled or lbw but today was my day for some reason. Little things went my way.

"I chipped one just over long off and Luke Wright got a hand on it, then one went just over the stumps. Those little things need to go your way and they did."

More Edgbaston magic from Moeen

Worcestershire's third T20 win at Edgbaston this season was their fourth at the ground in 2018, having done the double over Warwickshire and the Bears in the group stage of both limited-overs competitions.

And on the ground where he began his career with Warwickshire, Moeen has scored a total of 311 runs with knocks of 115, 114, 41 and 41.

The England all-rounder also excelled with the ball, taking 2-16 in the T20 semi-final and 3-30 in the final, including the key wickets of international team-mates Jos Buttler and Luke Wright.

But he ended the day with a sore head, when, amidst the tumultuous scenes at the end, he got accidentally hit by long-time team-mate Daryl Mitchell.

Ben Cox and Moeen Ali celebrate
Ben Cox and Moeen Ali both played key roles in the the semi-final and final

"Mitch got a bit excited and nailed me straight on the nose," he said. "But, in any case, I'm not one for running on the pitch. The guys were buzzing. They deserved to run in.

"To get through the quarter-finals at long last was maybe more of a mental block for us than actually winning it as I didn't really expect to but it's a great day, to end a long 10 years.

"We're quite an experienced side even though we have so many young players, especially people like Coxy.

"Pat Brown, for instance, could easily have been man of the match in both games. But Coxy was fantastic after a tough week. I'm chuffed for him. He's been a massive player for me this season and always will be."

Sharp's first trophy as Pears head coach

Saturday night's triumph was a special moment for Kevin Sharp, who, in his first season since taking over after the acrimonious departure of director of cricket Steve Rhodes, helped win the county's first T20 trophy.

And there was a real sense of irony, given that his opposite number with Sussex was Jason Gillespie.

Former Yorkshire left-hander Sharp lost his job with his native county in the same backroom coaching shake-up that took former Australian Test fast bowler Gillespie to Headingley in November 2011.

Gillespie, now head coach with Sussex, got Yorkshire promoted back to the top flight, then won two County Championship titles with the Tykes.

He also won the Big Bash with Adelaide Strikers back in February. But there was no second T20 title of 2018 for him as it proved to be Worcestershire's day.

Aside from winning the Pro40 National League in 2007, it was the Pears' first major domestic trophy since beating treble-winning Warwickshire at Lord's in the 1994 NatWest Trophy final.