|Men’s Hundred final, Lord’s|
|Southern Brave 168-5 (100 balls): Stirling 61 (36), Whiteley 44* (19)|
|Phoenix 136-5 (100 balls): Livingstone 46 (19)|
|Brave win by 32 runs|
Southern Brave were crowned the first men’s Hundred champions after beating Birmingham Phoenix by 32 runs in an action-packed Lord’s final.
Chasing 169, Phoenix’s Liam Livingstone thrashed 46 from 19 balls, animating a raucous Lord’s crowd with an effortless flow of boundaries, before the game swung in dramatic and unlikely fashion.
Tim David, only brought into the Brave’s squad earlier this week, ran out Livingstone with a 60m direct hit from the deep – the in-form Livingstone agonisingly inches short.
Birmingham still needed another 99 from 55 balls and Brave’s impressive bowling attack closed out the game expertly to make the winning margin far greater than looked likely at one stage.
Teacher-turned-Hundred star Jake Lintott had Moeen Ali caught for 36 from 30 balls.
Ireland international Paul Stirling earlier hit 61 from 36 balls for the Brave before Ross Whiteley’s crucial 44 not out from 19 balls lifted them to 168-5.
The Oval Invincibles, winners of the women’s final earlier in the day, joined the Brave with their trophy at the end of a special day at cricket’s historic home.
The moment that turned the final
Thirty three runs looks like a big winning margin, but when Livingstone was flying – the crowd on its feet as he hit sixes at will – Birmingham were ahead of the Brave in their chase.
The game turned with a moment of sheer brilliance, however, from the most unlikely Brave hero.
David, an all-rounder born in Singapore, who he has played for internationally, only made his debut in Friday’s eliminator after coming in as a late replacement for New Zealand international Colin de Grandhomme, who flew home before the final.
The big 25-year-old, who earlier took a fine diving catch, swooped on a loose ball after a diving attempt to catch Livingstone had gone down, turned and arrowed a throw directly into the stumps.
His Brave team-mates sprinted to meet him in celebration. Livingstone covered his face with his glove, seemingly distraught.
“As soon as he [Livingstone] was on his way back Southern Brave were the champions,” said former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Two.
Hundred ends with ‘fantastic spectacle’
This finale did not look possible at the start of the day when the weather forecast suggested a washout.
The match may not have come down to the final ball but it was still an entertaining encounter with 22 sixes, some excellent fast bowling and impressive fielding.
The near-capacity crowd of 24,556, an encouraging number of those young children, were enthused for the majority.
The Hundred will still not please everyone, but the moment when the two men’s and women’s winners held their trophies aloft side-by-side on cricket’s most famous ground was special.
“It was a fitting occasion for the final, with lesser restrictions and families out,” Manchester Originals captain and BBC pundit Carlos Brathwaite said.
“It has been a privilege to be part of a fantastic spectacle and the game on the field did it justice.”
Brave worthy champions
It’s hard to argue Brave were worthy champions. They have finished the tournament with seven consecutive wins after defeats in their opening two games.
Tymal Mills was sensational again in the final, taking 1-13 from 20 balls to push his case for an England recall. Their fast bowling attack – featuring Mills, George Garton, Chris Jordan and Craig Overton – has been of international quality throughout.
Lintott, who paused his teaching career earlier this year when given a county contract, has been a standout performer with his spin.
They have won the title without the injured Jofra Archer and internationals David Warner and Andre Russell, who pulled out because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a real team effort and different people have turned up on different occasions,” said captain James Vince.
“It was Paul Stirling and Ross Whiteley tonight, to get us runs on the board that made the difference.”