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Willey hat-trick caps Northants win
David Willey took centre stage as Northamptonshire completed their unlikely climb from laughing stock to title winners with a thumping 102-run win over Surrey in the rain-affected Friends Life t20 final at Edgbaston.
Man of the match Willey followed the fastest half-century in this year's competition with a hat-trick to complete his, and his side's, fairytale success.
The Steelbacks had won just three of their past 22 Twenty20 matches before this season - and only one last year - to prompt captain Alex Wakely to admit they had hit "rock bottom" in the shortest format.
But following a dominant culmination to their surprise-packet campaign Wakely was tonight lifting his county's first major silverware in 21 years.
Makeshift opener Willey initially paved the way for a decisive 194 for two, from a rain-reduced 18 overs, after reaching his half-century from 19 balls.
Willey (60) was only promoted after Kyle Coetzer injured a wrist in the seven-wicket semi-final win over Essex, but it proved a blessing in disguise.
His heavy hitting was then followed by Wakely (59) and Cameron White (54), who combined in an unbeaten 107-run stand from 57 balls, on a night Surrey's bowlers would rather forget.
Jade Dernbach was chief among those as the England right-armer's four overs cost 55 - the second-most expensive figures on finals day.
Surrey never threatened to run down the chase as Willey then also made his mark in the field, taking four for nine, before sealing Northamptonshire's first title since they won the Friends Provident Trophy in 1992 with a hat-trick.
Zafar Ansari and Jon Lewis both picked out the field before Willey completed his night to remember when last man Chris Tremlett edged behind to diving wicketkeeper David Murphy.
Before that Willey had been involved in three of the first four dismissals to underline it was his time to enjoy the spotlight.
An inswinger slid into opener Jason Roy's stumps before his direct hit from long on, after his mis-field had coerced Steven Davies into a second run, found him short of his ground.
And after dangerman Glenn Maxwell (29) edged Steven Crook behind, Willey was waiting again on the ropes to hold on to Azhar Mahmood's lofted drive.
Surrey's heads unsurprisingly started to drop and when Zander de Bruyn saw White hold on at the second attempt their victory bid had become a forlorn hope before eventually being bowled out for 92 from 13.3 overs.
Northamptonshire made their blazing start, either side of a 45-minute rain delay, as Willey quickly dispelled any notion his was to be a foil to Richard Levi's big hitting at the top of the order.
He thumped Mahmood for consecutive sixes before it was Levi who was first man out, bowled by the veteran Pakistani, before the rain arrived for 45 minutes.
On resumption Willey took no time to pick up where he left off, slapping 20 from the first over back from Dernbach.
Willey brought up his half-century with a straight six off Jon Lewis before the veteran finally ended his destruction.
Willey skied a high catch that Gary Wilson held onto, but it failed to stop the bleed of runs as White and Wakely seamlessly took over.
They targeted the Hollies Stand on the short side of the ground with Wakely bringing up their 50-run stand, from 31 balls, by squeezing a boundary through point.
The skipper then flat-batted Dernbach over the ropes while White was hardly quiet, welcoming Mahmood's return to the attack with a trademark straight six.
Wakely's half-century arrived from his 25th ball and the runs kept flowing with Mahmood, who was a part of the Surrey side that won the inaugural Twenty20 title in 2003, conceding one for 53.
The century stand was brought up from the penultimate ball and White put an exclamation mark on the innings, and brought up his fifty, with a pulled six.