Nottinghamshire Outlaws century-maker Steven Mullaney couldn’t hide his delight after his record-breaking stand with Samit Patel helped his side to the Royal London Cup final.
The 185-run fifth-wicket partnership helped carry Outlaws to the highest successful run chase in a domestic List A competition and land a place in the final at Lord’s on July 1.
The stand took just 24 overs as the Outlaws reached their target of 371 with three balls and five wickets to spare, leaving Mullaney in great spirits.
He said: “A day out at Lord’s – what more would you want from a one-day season.
“Within five days we have played on two of the best one-day pitches I have ever played on. It was a great pitch and credit to Essex for putting on that pitch and putting on a fantastic day’s cricket.
“We knew it was important to get off to a good start and then every batter came in. Everything had to go our way and luckily it did.
“I got some added responsibility coming in at five until Alex came back today, then I was in at six. So it has been nice to repay Mooresy and Ready for the extra responsibility.”
Of the finale, Mullaney said: “That is the most nervous needing six off just 10 balls and getting to the last four. But it doesn’t matter as they took it off the last ball.
“In our team meetings we are always saying we need just one more run than the opposition and that is what we have done twice this week.
“It was a fantastic chase and we will be very confident going to Lord’s on July 1.
“I don’t care who we get in the final. They are both great teams and both pose an equal amount of threat. We’re confident of taking anyone at the minute.”
Patel and Mullaney became the third and fourth players to score hundreds in a pulsating semi-final on a flat Chelmsford wicket in which 743 runs were scored for the loss of only ten wickets.
The pair came together after Brendan Taylor had put on exactly 100 with Patel for the fourth wicket, and the game looked open at 180 for four just before the halfway mark. Patel, though, owed Notts a big one after being instrumental in the running-out of Taylor when he was going well on 62.
Mullaney’s fifth six, over long-on off Ravi Bopara, brought up his first List A century from 71 balls before he went with victory just another six away, attempting to uppercut Neil Wagner and was caught behind. His innings took 75 balls and included six sixes.
Patel finished unbeaten on 122, his sixth domestic one-day century.
The Outlaws’ total beat the Hampshire record chase of 359 against Surrey in 2007.
Earlier Alastair Cook hammered his third century in the competition and Ryan ten Doeschate his second as Essex set the Outlaws 371 to win in their 50 overs.
The former England captain royally entertained a capacity crowd for two hours 38 minutes with 133 from 128 balls with 16 fours as Essex rattled up their highest total in the competition this season. It was his 12th one-day century and took him past one thousand runs for the season in all competitions, 636 of them in this competition.
He shared a 98-run partnership in 13 overs for the fourth wicket with ten Doeschate before falling four runs short of equalling his highest 50-over score.
Outlaws seamer Harry Gurney bore the brunt of Essex’s attack, his seven overs going for 75, though Samit Patel’s nine overs for 51 and one wicket, and Stuart Broad’s two for 56 off 10 stopped it turning into something like the 429 Notts scored against Somerset on Tuesday.
Essex elected to bat and raced to fifty in the eighth over, of which Cook’s contribution was 38. Varun Chopra had managed just 11 of the first 58 runs, but then lofted Ball straight for four before pulling James Pattinson for six. Cook, meanwhile, reached his half-century by easing the Outlaws fifth bowler, Steven Mullaney, to third man for his ninth boundary from 35 balls.
Mullaney ended the first-wicket stand on 87 when he had Chopra caught behind for 23. The return of Patel accounted for Westley as he rocked back and dragged the ball to Taylor at short midwicket to go for 33 off 23 balls. Bopara put on 37 with Cook before he pushed forward to a shorter ball from Broad and was caught behind. Broad’s next ball was a no-ball giving ten Doeschate a free-hit, which he deposited over the bowler’s head for six.
Cook’s 13th four, driven through a diving Gurney at mid-on, brought up his personal three-figures from 95 balls.
Mullaney went for 21 in an over, including four successive boundaries by ten Doeschate as he raced through the thirties. A nonchalant drive through the covers took him to fifty off 40 balls.
Cook departed soon after, looking for another big-hit, top-edging Patel vertically and Chris Read claiming the catch running back. Ashar Zaidi was starting to wind up for a big innings, with three fours in his 16, when he pulled Broad to a horizontal Taylor just in front of the square-leg umpire.
Foster lofted Pattinson over midwicket to take Essex past 300 in the 46th over, and ten Doeschate smashed a six into the upper tier of the River End stand in the same over.
Ten Doeschate then took three maximums off the penultimate over, bowled by Gurney – the first over long-on to take the partnership to fifty from 23 balls, a straighter one two balls later took Essex to 350 and he completed the onslaught over long-off.
Ten Doeschate’s century, brought up with a typically scampered two into the onside, took 64 balls and included seven fours and five sixes. He had led the way in an unbroken stand with Foster was worth 75 in 5.2 overs.
Notts had 21 on the board from the first 11 balls when Michael Lumb played down the wrong line to Porter and sent the ball in the opposite direction intended and was caught by Simon Harmer at short backward point.
The runs did not stop as Alex Hales caressed Neil Wagner through the covers to bring up the fifty in just five overs, and the Outlaws continued to find gaps in the field to plunder boundary after boundary.
But two wickets in four balls by Porter briefly halted the run-riot. Hales’s 21-ball innings ended when he was bowled leg-stump for 39 and then Riki Wessels played on as he tried to sweep a straight one and went for 23. Suddenly Notts were 80 for three in the 10th over.
The second fifty took a more sedate nine overs, but Taylor kick-started the innings with a chipped six over long-on off Wagner. Taylor and Patel’s partnership passed fifty in nine overs and Taylor brought up his own half-century from 39 balls with five fours and that six.
But when Taylor had reached 62, he called for a sharp single from the bowler’s end, Patel ignored it, and Taylor was at the same end as Porter’s throw was gathered by Harmer to complete a crazy run-out.
Patel reached his own fifty from 60 balls soon after. Then Mullaney took over. He cleared the ropes with a straight drive off Harmer and then hit four fours in the spinner’s next over on the way to his highest 50-over score. Porter, Walter, Harmer. Bopara and Wagner were all carted by Mullaney for sixes in the final assault.