David Willey starred throughout as Northants Steelbacks won their first major silverware since the 1992 NatWest Trophy by romping to Friends Life t20 glory with a 102-run demolition of Surrey in the Edgbaston final.
The 23-year-old son of former England international Peter Willey flayed the fastest fifty of this year’s competition, from 19 balls, before ending the game with a hat-trick for figures of 4-9 from 2.3 overs.
Willey junior bowled Jason Roy, perhaps Surrey’s best hope of a successful chase, for 13, ran out Steven Davies with a direct hit from long-on and caught Azhar Mahmood in the same position to leave the Londoners four down in their eighth over.
He returned to have Zafar Ansari and Jon Lewis held in front of square on the off side before Chris Tremlett was caught behind to spark wild celebrations from the Steelbacks, who defended 194 for two with more than six overs unused.
Northants’ total, made in a match reduced to 18 overs a side by rain, was the highest in a domestic Twenty20 final on these shores. It was also aided by unbeaten half-centuries from captain Alex Wakely and Cameron White, who shared an alliance worth 107 in 40 deliveries.
The Steelbacks’ triumph is remarkable given they won just three format contests in the previous two seasons. This year they took the Midlands, Wales & West Group with seven victories from 10 before beating Durham Dynamos in the quarter-final.
They defeated Essex Eagles by seven wickets in today’s first semi, after which Surrey sneaked past 2012 champions Hampshire Royals by four wickets.
Vikram Solanki, standing in as Surrey skipper for the banned Gareth Batty, followed the formula that worked for the victorious semi-finalists by opting to chase this evening.
Opening only because Kyle Coetzer missed the showpiece with a wrist injury, Willey’s innings was interrupted by a near hour-long rain delay at 37 for one from four overs after Richard Levi was bowled by Azhar.
In the next over Willey hit Jade Dernbach for four consecutive boundaries and went on to reach his fifty with his fourth six before holing out off Lewis for 60 from 27 deliveries.
Willey had shared a 28-ball half-century alliance with White, who emulated that milestone from 31 deliveries alongside Wakely. Wakely’s fifty subsequently arrived from 25 balls and he ended on 59 from 30 while White was unbeaten on 54 from 39.
Glenn Maxwell was the first Surrey wicket not to involve Willey as he was caught behind for a sprightly 29 off Steven Crook.
Forced to go for an accelerating required rate, Surrey’s middle order folded with Crook grabbing a second scalp and the competition's leading wicket-taker Muhammad Azhar Ullah striking once to extend his tally to 27.
Willey fittingly had the last word with just the second hat-trick in these finals, completed by wicketkeeper David Murphy's stunning right-handed catch.
See the photo gallery of the day at http://www.northantscricket.com/news/photo_gallery/152/flt-finals-day