FEROZE Khushi’s last-ball heroics at the Oval will sit in Essex cricket folklore alongside Hobbs’s rapid century against the Australians, Gooch’s majestic ton in the B&H final and Harmer’s blistering bullets on Finals Day four years ago, writes MARTIN SMITH.

To recap: Essex needed three runs off the final delivery on Sunday to not only beat Surrey but to stand any chance of a Vitality Blast quarter-final against Birmingham Bears. The batsman’s Khushi, the bowler’s Sean Abbott; win and you’re in, lose and you’re out.

“Yes, it was really make or break,” admits Khushi, 24, as he tries to assimilate the enormity of the moment. “In my mind I was just trying to hit it for four or six. It was only going to go one way and I just tried to whack it and hope for the best.

“Luckily, I got a decent connection. I didn’t think initially I’d got enough on it. I was hoping and praying it would go over the line.

“I was just running. I wasn’t really looking where the ball was going. I was just making sure we were running to get it done.”


It was only from watching footage on social media that Khushi can piece together what happened next. As his almighty heave from outside off-stump sailed down towards long-on, Surrey captain Chris Jordan looked favourite to pull off a running catch and signal Essex’s demise.

However, in attempting to prevent his momentum taking him over the boundary, Jordan threw the ball skywards in the hope team-mate Jamie Overton would complete the relay catch.

Instead, he merely tossed the ball over the rope for six.

“I heard a lot of cheering,” says Khushi, “but I didn’t know if it was for them or for us. I turned for the third run and saw my team-mate Snates [Shane Snater] at the other end jumping up and down and that’s when I knew we had won.

“Everyone loves a last-ball finish, don’t they? It’s an even better feeling when you win off the last ball, even better if it’s a six. It’s boring if you win it with a few overs to go, isn’t it?”


It should never have gone to the last ball, though. There were 8.3 overs left, Essex requiring just 56, when Khushi went in second wicket down after a 140-run stand between Dan Lawrence and Michael Pepper.

“I think we’d all agree it went a little bit closer than we wanted.

"This happens when you lose a couple of quick wickets, and it gets a little tense. We just needed to stay calm. You’ve just got to back yourself.”

However, the day’s drama was not over. Khushi and Essex had to wait for that evening’s match to learn how Kent had fared against Somerset and whether they had claimed the last quarter-final place.

They hadn’t and Essex were through to face the Bears – the nom de guerre of Warwickshire – at Edgbaston tonight.

“They will be favourites,” says Khushi, “but we’re going to go there thinking it’s just a one-leg shoot-out. It’s whoever plays best on the day wins. We’ve got a good chance, so have they, but if we play our best cricket we can beat any team.”


It has been an up-and-down T20 campaign for the Eagles. “There were a few defeats in there that we look back and say we really should have won those games, especially when you’re setting scores of 200-plus, 220-plus, and still losing. That’s tough to take.

“But we’re going to move on and look at it that we’re only three games away from winning the title. We’ve got to learn from those defeats and mistakes, look forward and hopefully we can make it to Finals Day [back at Edgbaston on Saturday week].”

Khushi has recent history against Warwickshire: his T20-esque 44 off 46 balls set up Essex’s nine-wicket win in the Championship at Chelmsford last week.

The Academy graduate is starting to establish himself in the first team after some outstanding displays in all formats.

“It’s still very early on in my career,” he says.

“I’ve had some really good performances this year so far and I can only hope that continues. When I do get the chance I try to play my best and give 100 per cent for the team, either batting or fielding.”