Andrew Hall’s two year spell with Worcestershire CCC was defined by six deliveries which again highlighted the County’s ability to triumph in the face of adversity.
The all-rounder was carried shoulder high off Blackfinch New Road after turning the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy semi-final with a powerful Lancashire side on its head and sending Worcestershire CCC to Lord’s.
On a red hot August day, the Red Rose County were favourites to triumph when they began the final over needing seven runs to overhaul Worcestershire CCC’s 254-5 with four wickets in hand – including century-maker Mel Loye.
One big hit and the game would have effectively been all over.
But Hall demonstrated limited overs ‘death’ bowling of the supreme quality which had seen him regain his place in the South African side when handed the ball by the then Worcestershire CCC captain, Ben Smith.
He had earlier trapped Andrew Flintoff and Carl Hooper both lbw, as well as catching Stuart Law at second slip, and now produced six perfect yorkers to bamboozle the Lancashire batsmen. The result was a double wicket maiden – plus a run out also instigated by Hall.
Hall bowled Warren Hegg and Peter Martin with the first and third deliveries and ran out John Wood off the fifth to leave Loye needing a six off the final delivery to level the scores.
Yet another superb yorker left Loye powerless as the ball dribbled out to backward square leg and was the cue to send Worcestershire CCC members and supporters delirious with delight as they invaded the outfield to congratulate Hall and his team-mates.
It earned Hall a place in Worcestershire CCC’s folklore and sealed a first Lord’s final appearance for nine years.
Here skipper Smith looks back at that memorable day and that dramatic finale in which Worcestershire rallied in time honoured fashion to pull the game out of the fire.
He said: “Mel Loye was taking the game away from us with ease but I remember thinking if we can get it down to the final over, we might have a chance because, if he got out, then someone else would have to come in and start again.
“I remember just getting the feeling how Lancashire were approaching it and that the other end were just going to leave it up to Mel Loye to get the job done.
“They and had lost a bit of energy and busyness between the wickets and that might have been something to do with the heat. It was a steaming hot day.
“The only way we could win the game in the last 10 overs was to try and keep him (Loye) off strike and bowl as many balls as we could do to the other batsmen – and ultimately that’s what actually happened in that very last over.
“Hally had got a slightly off the wrong foot bowling action and, because of that, he was very effective at getting his yorkers in so he was always going to bowl the last over if it came down to that.”
Smith recalls how focused Hall was bowling approaching that final over – after getting his own way with the field he wanted to bowl to.
He said: “Going into the last over my most vivid memory was Heggy (Warren Hegg) being an extremely strong offside player and he would make his own width and slice the ball through the off side.
“So for the first ball, we had put a long off in place for but Hally said ‘I don’t want a long off, I want a long on’ To me, after playing against Heggy for so many years I said ‘no mate, he hits through the off side, he doesn’t hit anything over the on side’
“I had got Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) and Hicky (Graeme Hick) waving their arms saying ‘what are you doing having a long on and not a long off’ and I remember gesturing to them ‘you are going to have to let him go with it’
“Hally was so focused. I said ‘are you happy’ and he said ‘yes, just leave me, I am fine’ – and he bowled Heggy with the first ball.
“Peter Martin came in, and Hally had the same field again. He just wanted his leg side covered because he was going to back himself to ‘nail’ his yorker, six out of six
“He got another one in, then another to dismiss Martin, the fifth ball created the run out and he did the same to the final ball to Mel Loye. As long as Loye didn’t hit a six off the final ball we were home and hosed.”
Smith looks back with pride at how Worcestershire CCC overcame the odds heading into the finale of the game against a Lancashire side who had been a powerful force in one-day cricket
He said: “It was all stacked up against us pretty much going into that last over.
“Lancashire had a team made up of Carl Hooper, Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Law, Glenn Chapple, a County that had won so many one-day titles, so it was a huge win to beat a team with such a great reputation.
“Going into that last over, if it had been them needing 15 to 20 to win and we had defended it, then the celebrations wouldn’t have been quite so over the top.
“But the fact Hally managed to defend seven, the fact someone like Hegg was on strike and Loye on a hundred was at the other end….it was a tremendous effort.
“He didn’t get anything wrong. He did a brilliant job and you look back at the whole situation we were in and, as a fielding team you are thinking ‘they’ve got to cock things up here’ and we celebrated one individual’s piece of brilliance.
“It wasn’t like a length ball that someone slogged up in the air and got caught, it wasn’t a half volley that was snagged to extra cover. It was fantastic ‘death’ yorker bowling.”