Published: 21:44, 18 September 2021
| Updated: 10:33, 19 September 2021
Jordan Cox went from zero to hero as Kent Spitfires won the T20 Blast final on Saturday at Edgbaston.
Cox was out for a golden duck in the semi-final win over Sussex Sharks but he hit a crucial half-century in the final before a brilliant fielding display helped Kent defeat Somerset under the lights.
Kent captain Sam Billings said: "I can't really put it into words. It's been a phenomenal team effort, all year. The whole squad to a man have been incredibly impressive.
"It's for the fans as much as us, it's been a long time coming and we've been threatening to do it for a while.
"Over the last few years we've been one of the best sides in the country."
After being put into bat, Kent made 167-7 in 20 overs before restricting Somerset to 142-9 with the spin of Joe Denly and Qais Ahmad playing an important role.
Somerset opener Tom Banton has two T20 hundreds against Kent to his name so the Spitfires were delighted when he missed a Denly leg break that turned from middle and was stumped by Billings for a second-ball duck.
It was 3-2 at the end of the next over as Daniel Bell-Drummond took a good catch running back in the covers after Fred Klaassen got a leading edge from Lewis Goldsworthy.
Will Smeed and Tom Abell led the Somerset recovery before Ahmad had the latter caught for 26 by Klaassen.
There was controversy in the 11th over when Denly returned to the attack and thought he had Smeed caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary by Cox. But he was in contact with Daniel Bell-Drummond who in turn slid into the rope after the catch was taken. It was ruled six rather than out on an umpire review.
It mattered little as Cox took a more conventional catch later in the over to give Denly his second wicket, Smeed falling for 43.
Denly's (3-31) final ball of his four-over spell also produced a wicket, albeit a fortunate one as Tom Lammonby was adjudged lbw to a ball that was heading down the leg side.
Somerset were 94-6 in the 14th over with one of the best catches in a T20 final. Lewis Gregory thought he'd put Darren Stevens away for a six over deep mid-wicket but Cox brilliantly jumped over the boundary and tipped the ball back into the hands of Matt Milnes to take the catch.
The seventh wicket came in the next over, Ahmad finishing with figures of 2-19 in four overs as Denly caught Roelof van der Merwe inside the circle on the off side from a low full toss.
There was still life in the chase as Stevens' (1-30) last two deliveries went for six and four to leave Somerset needing 58 from the last four overs.
Milnes returned to the attack to have Craig Overton caught at deep mid-on by Jack Leaning for 13 and Grant Stewart removed Ben Green for nine.
Somerset needed 43 off the final over, bowled by Stewart, but despite two sixes - including one off the last ball - the Spitfires won by 25 runs.
Kent had earlier posted 167-7 thanks to Cox's brilliant 26-ball half-century. He finished 58 not out from 28 balls with three sixes and three fours, taking 14 off the last three balls of the innings.
Zak Crawley had led the way with 41 from 33 balls at the top of the order but Kent lost their way from 44-0, losing Bell-Drummond (18), Denly (0) and Billings (2) cheaply to falter to 52-3.
Crawley went with the score 75-4 in the 12th and it was left to Jack Leaning (27 from 29) to rebuild the innings and provide Cox the platform to explode. The last four overs went for 56 runs.
Kent beat Sussex Sharks by 21 runs in the semi-finals earlier in the day. Spitfires made 168-8, thanks largely to Bell-Drummond's 82 from 51 balls while the evergreen Stevens made his mark on finals day at the age of 45, finishing 47 not out from 28 balls.
Klaassen (4-17) and Milnes (3-22) were the most successful bowlers as Sussex failed to recover from 57-5 in reply. They finished on 147 all out, George Garton hitting 41 in 23 balls.