Essex's Harmer hails Bopara after Vitality Blast glory
PUBLISHED: 15:12 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:12 22 September 2019
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Simon Harmer reasoned his decision to keep Ravi Bopara at number six was vindicated by the former England all-rounder helping Essex Eagles to Vitality Blast glory.
Bopara was dropped for two matches during the group stages of the campaign following a disagreement with the Essex captain over his position in the batting order before returning to play a crucial role in their run to Finals Day.
He was instrumental, too, in the final at a sold-out Edgbaston as he kept Essex afloat after they had lurched to 82-5 in response to the 145-9 put on the board by defending champions Worcestershire Rapids.
A breezy 36 not out from 22 balls was followed by Harmer taking centre stage, with the South African following up his 3-16 from four overs on a turning track by hitting back-to-back fours as Essex snatched a four-wicket victory in a last-ball thriller.
Harmer said: "In my opinion Ravi is one of, if not the best finisher in T20 innings. I felt in order for us to win games we needed him to come in at six to finish games for us.
"It's pointless him walking in at three, getting a good ball and he's sitting back in the hut. Sometimes you need to prove people wrong in order to make them believe and I think that was the case with him.
"He came back after time away, he bought in 100 per cent and reaped the rewards.
"He's an incredibly-talented cricketer in the way he thinks about cricket and the way he bats, the way he bowls, the execution of his skill. He's an unbelievable player.
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"I can understand his frustration but hopefully, even if it's not now, five or 10 years down the line he can maybe sit back and realise that he is actually best suited for maybe five or six."
Harmer replaced Ryan Ten Doeschate as Essex's T20 captain before the start of the season and is unapologetic over his methods after leading a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes in the sprint format.
They won only two of their first 10 group matches - albeit with four no-results - but clicked into gear at the right time, thanks to some decisive contributions from Bopara in the must-win showdowns against Surrey and Kent and then in the quarter-final victory over Lancashire.
Harmer added: "I want to win trophies and I'm going to do what I feel is best for the team.
"If individuals don't think that is what's best for the team then that's their prerogative. As a captain the club expects performances so I need to deliver and I need to get 10 other blokes buying into the same plan.
"A couple of players got dropped, senior players - which was not a popular opinion to drop them - but it was what I felt was best for the team in order to get 11 guys on the park who were all pulling in the same direction."
Having wrapped up a first T20 title in their history, Essex will next week look to make it a double by avoiding defeat against Somerset, which would be enough to be crowned Specsavers County Championship winners.
"We have the tools to be very competitive in the next five years over all three formats," Harmer added.
"With us winning this T20 trophy, the belief is there and the players now understand that actually we are good enough.
"All the noise in the background is just noise so hopefully, moving forward, we can be competitive and win more trophies."