Head coach Richard Dawson did not envisage leading Gloucestershire to silverware in his first season in charge at the Bristol County Ground.
Appointed as the successor to John Bracewell in January, the former England spinner oversaw Gloucestershire’s first trophy for 11 years following the dramatic six-run victory over Surrey in the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s yesterday.
On the triumph, the 35-year-old told ecb.co.uk: “It is brilliant, it is an amazing feat from the players. They take a lot of credit, in fact they take all the credit.
“It was one of those things where you get on a roll and you think get past the quarter-final, get up at Yorkshire, get past Yorkshire and you end up here. It is all a bit surreal. I’m sure it will sink in the next few days.”
Gloucestershire, boosted by Michael Klinger’s 531 runs at an average of 106.20, have been the surprise package in this season’s 50-over competition.
Having finished second to Surrey in Group A, the West Country outfit convincingly brushed aside Hampshire and Yorkshire before starring at the home of cricket, where they defended 220.
The result yesterday left Dawson proud of his players, saying: “There is a lot of talent in the changing room.
“Being led by Michael especially, leading from the front with the bat and showing commitment coming back from Australia. We have had to call on the squad when there were injuries and people stood up and performed.
“That has been the best thing about the whole tournament, we have asked people to do a job and they have come in and nailed it away.”
The tense victory was the perfect send off for ex-England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, who struck a crucial fifty in his final match as a professional cricketer.
Congratulations to the players and a huge thank you to our supporters. A true 12th man! pic.twitter.com/ta1QUxJ8EI
— Gloucestershire CCC (@Gloscricket) September 19, 2015
The 39-year-old, formerly of Kent, has been a revelation to Gloucestershire in the RLODC this term, according to Dawson.
“He’s been a very, very calming influence in this 50-over competition,” the Yorkshireman said. “Coming in batting number five or six, just having experience there, finishing games off, rebuilding an innings like today, he has been outstanding in the changing room.”
But Jack Taylor removed both in quick succession, Sangakkara’s dismissal to a full-toss triggering a collapse that saw Surrey lose their last eight wickets for just 71 runs.
Captain Klinger, dismissed from the third ball of the match, told ecb.co.uk: “I always felt on this wicket it was quite hard to start on, it was a little bit two paced and spinning as well. I always felt that if we could get a couple of quick ones, the game would turn.
“It just so happened to be the ones we got were the two in-batters. It was always going to be tough for the new guys to start.
“The plan, I suppose, worked. I mean Sangakkara nine times out of 10 would have hit that ball for six! But it was our day and I couldn’t be happier and proud of the boys.”
Klinger put faith in David Payne to bowl the final over with Surrey needing seven runs with three wickets remaining.
After James Burke was run out, the left-armer dismissed Sam Curran and Gareth Batty to spark jubilant celebrations from the Gloucestershire players.
Payne, earlier the final wicket in Jade Dernbach’s hat-trick, told ecb.co.uk: “We had a talk and he (Klinger) said ‘whatever you bowl mate, back yourself and try and nail it’. That’s what I tried to do and luckily it came off.
“The one to Sam Curran probably wasn’t the perfect yorker but it was enough. To Batty, when he hit it my first thought was ‘oh god, it’s going’, but to see it go in Jack’s (Taylor) hands was incredible. An unbelievable day.”
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