Trent Rockets 121 for 8 (Malan 19, Little 2-18) beat Manchester Originals 120 for 9 (Turner 26, Cook 4-18) by two wickets
One of the many criticisms of the 2022 edition of the men’s Hundred was the lack of close finishes. The kind which build legends and tear down legacies, or even simply give mortals a taste of nectar or soul-crushing agony. Now, in the 32nd and final game, we had it.
A miraculous flat six over square leg from a near-perfect leg-stump yorker was the surprise knife into the side of Manchester Originals. The four flicked around the corner from a next-ball full toss, then the single to take Rockets over the line, simply twisted it.
How we got to this finish will remain a mystery, because nothing about how the match’s previous 195 deliveries suggested anything close to a high drama, high-quality finale. There was ebb and flow, which isn’t exactly what this format is supposed to be about. The scores and balls go up, then they come down, while the broadcasters assure you this is the best thing ever. By the end, they weren’t even hamming it up.
Even with the deck as it was, the expectation was of a comfortable Rockets win, given a line-up packed full of international experience. However, their three T20I centurions all underwhelmed: Alex Hales clubbed Little to cover, Malan (19) gifted Stubbs a leading edge into tthe covers off Walter, and Colin Munro (16) gave Parkinson the last laugh with a catch at long-off after striking him for back-to-back fours.
Patel offered little with the bat. He was struck on the head by a Walter short ball and then fell for just nine from 13 to leave a testing yet achievable 36 from 26. By the final 15, just after Moores had become Walter’s second, there were 24 required which became 15 from 13 when a scampered three was followed by a Daniel Sams heave to leg off Tom Hartley that was carried over the boundary by Lammonby.
Another go at clearing that region went too straight and into Stubbs’ mitts at long-on, the first of two wickets for four runs in the eight balls that led to Gleeson’s fateful final five.
The journey to that point had been long and winding, beginning at the start of August and featuring a Friday-night detour to the Ageas Bowl for Manchester Originals to earn the right to be here. And now, thanks to two wickets each for Little, Walter, Hartley and Parkinson, they were on the verge of doing it the hard way. Now they’ll have to start from the beginning and do it all again.
As for the Rockets, this was no less than they deserved. They have set the standard in the men’s competition, right down to leaning on Nottinghamshire’s fashioning of Trent Bridge into one of the best short-form venue experiences in the world. For the longest time, the ground and the county have set a high standard for white ball cricket. Now they have another trophy to show for it, after a match that served a timely reminder that, no matter the format, cricket always wins.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor for ESPNcricinfo