Jake Ball admits he got just as many messages ribbing him as those of congratulations after bowling Nottinghamshire into their first one-day Lord’s final in 24 years.
The Welbeck Colliery seamer picked up the man of the match award after career-best figures of 4-25 propelled the green and golds to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Somerset in their YB40 semi-final at Trent Bridge.
Ball and his team-mates, who chased down the visitors’ 119 all out in just 16.2 overs, will now take on Glamorgan in the showpiece final at the home of cricket on 21st September in front of what is likely to be a sell-out crowd.
But despite a frenzy of interest in his exploits, the 23-year-old seamer was never likely to let it go to his head once his friends at Welbeck heard his post-match interview beamed live on Sky Sports.
“I was talking to Charles Colville and he was asking me what I would do with the Champagne from the man of the match award. I said I would be giving it to my mum,” said Ball, who grew up in Warsop and is a former pupil at Meden School, “I thought it was a nice thing to do, but the Welbeck boys have been giving me plenty of stick about it!
“It’s been quite a whirlwind since the game finished, but it feels incredible to have made a Lord’s final. I’ve spoken to Michael Lumb, who’s already played in one and says it is as good as it gets domestically, so it’s great to have it in prospect so early in my career.
“We didn’t expect it to be over so quickly because Somerset have been a bit of a bogey side for us in one-day competitions in the last few seasons.
“But we were very confident going into the match after having a really good training session under the lights on Sunday evening. We were also pretty determined after losing out in the quarter-finals of the T20 at home to Essex.”
Right-armer Ball, a familiar face in the Nottinghamshire Premier League where he still plays for Welbeck when available, has now taken 19 wickets in 12 YB40 games in 2013 at an average of 22.63.
He has been well supported in the bowling department by colleagues Ajmal Shahzad (19 at 19.42), Steven Mullaney (17 at 21.35), Harry Gurney (17 at 27.88) and Samit Patel (12 at 39.25).
Ball added: “I didn’t start off too well against Somerset - I think my second over went for 13 runs - which can get you down, but the rest of the lads got behind me and just told me to carry on doing what I have been all summer.
“I’m really pleased for the fans as well because they have got behind us in their numbers for the one-day competitions and this is a reward for them.
“Personally one-day cricket has gone well for me. I got off to a good start in my first few games and Mick (Newell, director of cricket) gave me the confidence I needed by saying I would play the majority of games in white ball cricket.
“I think we’ve all bowled well as a unit and fed off each other. The likes of Ajmal, Harry, Steven and Samit have all taken the pressure off me.”
Ball and co will now be hoping to emulate the Nottinghamshire team of 1989, who beat Essex by three wickets in a dramatic finish to claim the Benson and Hedges Cup.
Back then,Tim Robinson’s men still needed fours runs to win from the final ball of the innings - and got them thanks to a boundary from spinner Eddie Hemmings.
“It’s a big couple of weeks for the club because our first priority has to be secure our Division One status in the County Championship, meaning we cannot get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Ball.
“But once we switch our minds to the final it is going to be quite a build-up. We will certainly draw confidence from the way we played against Somerset.
“Hopefully I can play a big part again. It’s a cliche to say it, but to play at Lord’s will be a dream come true.”