The first semi-final at Edgbaston on Saturday of English cricket’s NatWest T20 Blast tournament, will see the Birmingham (Warwickshire) Bears face Surrey.
For Birmingham, who will be playing on their own ground, this will be the first time that they have appeared on finals day, since the inaugural season back in 2003, when they lost to the same opponents that they will face on Saturday. There have been six quarter final appearances since, but all of which have ended in failure.
It took a shock victory at Chelmsford against Essex to book them their place at Edgbaston. Essex who had been the form team in the South Group fell victim to a return to form of Varun Chopra who made his highest T20 score, and Rikki Clarke who almost doubled his season’s tally of runs.
With nearly 10 runs an over to defend, Jeetan Patel’s four overs for just 23 runs put the pressure on the home side and with Boyd Rankin weighing in with 3-34, Essex came up well short of their target, and Warwickshire’s long wait for a trip to finals day was finally at an end.
Surrey on the other hand will be enjoying their sixth appearance in 12 seasons at finals day on Saturday, although only the second time since 2006.
The Oval based county have certainly produced some of the most exciting T20 cricket of the English season, with Jason Roy producing some of the most thrilling hitting of the summer.
The returning Kevin Pietersen will be anxious to prove his worth on the big stage, having struggled to make an impression earlier in the season, following his poor showing in the Indian Premier League.
If Roy and Pietersen hit their straps on Saturday, then Surrey may be propelled not just past Birmingham Bears to the final, but all the way to their first title since 2003.