VIEW FROM THE BLUES: Stunning final win is fantastic reward for the years of hurt

HUDDLE UP! - Northants Steelbacks celebrate their t20 final win over Surrey (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
HUDDLE UP! - Northants Steelbacks celebrate their t20 final win over Surrey (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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At Twickers the Saints were sinners, at Wembley the Cobblers were, well, Cobblers. But the Steelbacks are no longer the Stillbottoms, champions in every way and simply imperious at Edgbaston to become Friends Life t20 champions!

The town is very proud right now, and what a difference a year makes.

Disagreements in the dressing room, the fans sniggering at the players, yours truly set to be turfed out of the ground and just five victories from 38 matches all season, hitting every fence in the National.

It was horrible.

Now we are the best one-day team in the land, and the Twenty20 trophy sits proudly on David Smith’s desk.

All the fans can wear their colours with pride once again - with at one point, David Willey was trending higher than Kim Kardashain on Twitter (ask your kids)!

Anyone who smashes the fastest 50 of the season for all cricket, and then secures the win with hat-trick is stamping on Ian Botham’s toes. The IPL and a celebrity girlfriend beckons for young David!

I decree from here on in that Willey will be known as Hollywood!

It was written, of course, that we would win.

David is the son of scary Peter, part of the team that delivered our first trophy in 1976.

Ripley played in our last Lord’s win, and two of Saturday’s umpires were ex-players, with Allan Lamb bringing that sprinkling of winners dust for the big occasion.

To show how far we have fallen in those two decades, only two coaches were needed by the supporters club for the final at Edgbaston - Northants’ ticket allocation unsold.

It all was very emotional, and the reason I started writing this column for the Chron in 2005.

You have to be cruel with your words sometimes to get your boys were they need to be for the fans, and that has made me few friends at the club, the hardest part of the day and victory.

But I have always said, sportsmen detest criticism and performing is the only answer to those critics.

They did that, and it must feel amazing. No one wants to be loser. This is where we all want to be, and where we want to stay.

With an audible amount of Northants fans at the impressive Edgebaston ground, Essex were first up, an older version of us.

With Essex at 114 for five, things were under control with Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara out, but Graham Napier did his wild man thing late on, and a total of 168 suddenly became daunting, the seamers looking a little shell-shocked after the assault.

It would be our third highest successful chase if we got it - and it was no problem!

The club signed Richard Levi for this very moment, and his vicious 57 with most of it in boundaries got the team off to a flyer alongside the dependable Kyle Coetzer as they eased to 74 for none.

Cameron White (38no) took a back set and generously gave the stage to Steven Crook, who did a Napier with an explosive guitar solo, and that was that for a thrilling and unbeaten record fourth-wicket 78 stand to make the final.

It was our highest ever total against Essex in the Twenty20, revenge for Southend.

The final was special, the Steelbacks super confident and never in trouble

Their total of 194 for two was mindbogglingly good off just 18 overs, another record score against Surrey and the highest first innings in the history of the T20 Finals Day.

Again it was all about the partnerships, which is what got us to the final in the first place.

There was some massive hitting by Willey, White and Alex Wakeley, leading to!

The unbeaten 107 partnership between White and Wakely was another record, three short of Rob White and Nicky Boje’s record team partnership of 110.

Rob and Cameron now hold our first five partnership position records.

If you break it down its simple – clearing the ropes the most wins the matches.

The international-packed multi-millionaires were never going to get that total as the rain cleared through, and they were 92 all out - the lowest Finals Day score.

A winning margin of 102 runs is the fifth highest in domestic Twenty20 cricket by the team who hold the suffered the fourth biggest defeat in the history of the T20 game worldwide when they were dismissed for 47 at Durham in 2011.

Willey’s hatrick and the much improved Murphy’s stunning catch to secure the win summed up the day for the club and fans.

It was an astonishing spectacle.

Special thanks should go to the chief executive David Smith for pulling all the strings together, especially signing world-record holder Levi to replace Rob Newton at the last to test the budget.

Mark Tagg would not have done that.

That was the move that made that quarter-final possible.

Aso, well done to David Ripley, Mr Nice, and to the groundsmen for giving the lads batting tops to build confidence and momentum.

And well done to the team for being, well, a team!

Taggy and Capel also played their part by giving the fans a ground and youth system to be proud of.

If the club wanted to work out how to apologise for the struggles of the past 10 years, then this was it.

Any other business, and a shoddy victory over Holland under the Wantage Road lights just two days before Finals Day sets up an exciting last round of YB40 matches.

A win at Edgbaston on Bank Holiday Monday and Notts losing to Kent will mean Steelbacks finish top of the group and would book a home semi-final with Lord’s to come.

These are big paydays and important moments for the club.

A crowd the size of those wandering around Northampton town centre on a Sunday in February saw Holland fall away after a solid start, and their 176 all out was about par.

The Steelbacks’ pace bowlers seemed indifferent to the importance of the game, and Matt Spriegel turned in a seecond decent bowling performance in a row.

The Steelbacks wobbled on 40 for four to a sharp opening pair of quickies, but that man White (63no) took us over the line again, putting on 86 with James Middelbrook (37) to correct things.

Cameron could easily have had the night off and claimed preparation time for Finals Day and have a few beers with the visiting Australian team for the tour match who were on the ground earlier, but not a bit of it.

Other overseas guys we have had, would have done just that.

Instead, he strapped on the pads and delivered an all round man-of-the-match performance for the five-wicket win.