We’re marking the 10th anniversary of Bears’ historic 2014 T20 Blast win by talking to some of the players involved in that memorable campaign.

Olly Hannon-Dalby’s career at Edgbaston false started due to an injury-ravaged 2013. He was granted another year by Bears Coach Dougie Brown to prove himself and, in his words, “was clinging on by his fingertips”.

By the end of summer 2014 he had Bears’ first T20 trophy firmly in his grasp.

“It’s a very fine line between nervous and exciting. The biggest game of my career, full house at my home ground, and I’m bang in the middle surrounded by 25,000 fans. It doesn’t get better than that. And it will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Olly-Hannon Dalby ended the 2014 NatWest Blast season on a high, atop the winners podium at Edgbaston, after his three wickets in the final helped Bears to a pulsating win over tournament favourites Lancashire.

But he’d started that year’s historic T20 season lying on the treatment table.

A torn side in a County Championship match against Middlesex sidelined him for the first half of the group stage.

In his words, Bears had “no right” to make Finals Day – they won their last four North Group games to sneak in through the knockout stage back door – and he himself could never have dreamed of playing a pivotal role in the tournament climax.

“Finals Day seemed a long way off while I was going through rehab,” said Hannon-Dalby. “I was desperate to prove himself to the coaching staff and fans after 2013 had been a right off. And when I did my side I thought ‘no not again’.

“I think we were eight games into the group before I was fit enough to return.

“Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin (325 and 361 Bears wickets, respectively) had been doing well but I got a chance at Northants. It was on TV, I was a bit nervous. I got a wicket but we were well beaten.

“But I got two wickets in the derby against Worcestershire a few days later and two more in the last group game at home to Leicestershire.

“It was a bizarre end to the group. We had to beat Leicestershire and Notts had to beat Yorkshire at Headingley. Yorks scored 200. That’s common these days but back then it was humungous, like scoring 400.

“So it was like ‘good effort guys, we came back, got close, but didn’t quite make it’. Then in the midst of us getting wickets, we heard Notts were 100 for none off eight overs. We couldn’t believe it. We kept getting updates on the Tannoy. Notts whacked it everywhere and beat Yorks so we qualified.

“Jeetan Patel was mates with James Franklin at Notts, a fellow Kiwi. He hit three sixes from six balls to win it. I remember Jeets sent a message saying thanks pal for helping the Bears out. There may have been some champagne changing hands, I can’t recall!”

Bears upset the odds again with a quarter final win at Essex, and a semi final success against Surrey to set up the Lancashire Lightning finale.

The 6ft 8ins seamer rose to the occasion, taking 3-31 including two in four balls and the vital wicket of England’s Joss Buttler.

But he arrived at Edgbaston on the morning of 23 August 2014 not expecting to be in captain Varun Chopra’s starting XI.

He added: “I turned up on Finals Day thinking ‘I’m not going to play’. Chris Woakes is back, there’s Boyd Rankin, Ricky Clarke, Jeets Patel, Ateeq Javid, Recordo Gordon. I might be carrying drinks here.

“Luckily I got the nod and bowled the last four overs in both semi and the final. That’s a tough ask. Normally you’d get some up front, then the end.

“I have vivid memories of us beating Surrey. Jason Roy got them off to a flyer. Ateeq getting Kevin Pietersen caught and bowled. He’s a local lad and ran off shouting ‘KP, KP’. He’d got out one of his heroes.

“In the final I came on in the 12th or 13th over and luckily Jos Buttler nicked a half volley. I don’t think it did that much, then Croft missed one, and Jordan Clarke holed out in the deep. It was nice to get a few wickets in the final.

“We were underdogs and thrived on that; I think Surrey and Lancs underestimated us.

“I like to think I built up the drama for that final over, Flintoff versus Woakes. I may have got it slightly wrong bowling to Freddie in the penultimate over! Get my yorkers in again, that was my plan all campaign. Get a yorker in and he’ll miss it, I can’t wait to get Freddie out.

“Looking back it was exactly what he wanted, go for a yorker and miss the length. He hit me for two sixes to set up that grandstand finish. In hindsight I should have bowled a slower ball into the pitch and got him off strike.

“Luckily we had a guy called Chris Woakes at the other end who finished it off nicely. My last over definitely added to the excitement!”

And he said the talent and passion in the side made Bears Class of 2014 worthy Blast winners.

“There were some immense characters in the dressing room,” added Hannon-Dalby. “Captain Chops was brave but also very cool, a chilled guy, didn’t get too flustered.

“Belly (Ian Bell) played in the final; Jeets led the bowling attack, a passionate very fierce guy, who whipped us into shape in the bowlers’ meetings, along with bowling coach Alan Richardson. They told us what we were going to do, great analysis of the opposition.

“Will Porterfield, jet of a bloke but in the field would always do something spectacular every game. He always fielded at backward point.

“Ricky Clarke opened the bowling with big, bouncy away swingers, very hard to hit. Boyd at his best was 90mph, no one liked to face him, he was frightening. And then homegrown lads like Recordo and Ateeq.

“A great set of lads and it was a privilege to be part of the squad.”

Four Teams. Two Matches. Blast Off is back!

Vitality Blast Off is back and the Bears will launch their home T20 campaign with a huge men’s double-header featuring two big Midlands rivalry games.

Taking place on Saturday 1 June, Derbyshire Falcons host Leicestershire Foxes (2.30pm) before the Bears take on Notts Outlaws (6.30pm). Buy tickets in advance and save.

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