A year on from his dramatic final over in the T20 Blast final for Hampshire, Nathan Ellis is back to try and help his side defend their title… and he admits he hadn’t watched back his gripping final ball until recently!
- Ellis thought he had won the Blast for Hampshire only for a no ball to be called
- He then secured victory anyway after bowling the ball again under pressure
- When he returns from the IPL, he will lead the Hawks’ attack once again
Nathan Ellis was scrolling through social media when he was given a reminder of the chaotic conclusion to Hampshire’s securing of the Vitality Blast title they defend over the next two months.
‘Funnily enough, it popped up in suggestions for me when I was on YouTube, and I hadn’t watched it back until then,’ the Australian fast bowler tells Mail Sport from Indian Premier League duty with Punjab Kings in Dharamsala.
‘I was probably more nervous watching it back than I was in the moment bowling. It was absolute drama. Mayhem from start to finish.’
To recap, Ellis effectively sealed victory over Lancashire twice last July when, after yorking Richard Gleeson defending four off the final delivery at Edgbaston, a no-ball call forced him to go again with Lancashire now needing two to win.
To add to the sense of theatre, after Hampshire’s hugs were broken up, a premature pyrotechnics display to mark the end of the match caused a two-minute delay between the deliveries.
Nathan Ellis has admitted he only recently watched back the last ball of last year’s T20 Blast final
Ellis thought he had secured victory for Hampshire, only for his delivery to be deemed a no ball
He bowled the ball again after a delay, but still managed to secure victory for his side
‘There was so much smoke from the fireworks that it felt like an age,’ Ellis adds, of waiting to deliver the slower ball from which Lancashire stole a bye, and forlornly attempted to turn it into two.
Amidst the midsummer madness, the death specialist had somehow kept his cool, although he says such composure is not reflective of his personality.
‘In everyday life, I am quite a highly strung person, I reckon, but I have this theory that I am not smart enough, or my brain is not quick enough, to realise what is happening in the moment and so I almost go into auto-pilot. I was obviously disappointed at myself but I wasn’t panicking,’ he says.
Ellis returns to the south coast with compatriot Ben McDermott in the coming days, full of admiration for Hampshire, who will wear three stars on their shirts this season — one for each of their T20 trophies.
‘Enjoying each other’s success is one of the intangibles that can go a long way to winning tournaments,’ he continues.
‘I’ve only won one but that was what I believe got us there. Losing the first four games meant we could’ve fallen in a heap and capitulated and the fact that we didn’t just shows the morale and vibe in the changing room.’
Ellis’ own attitude towards competing for silverware has been shaped by the circuitous route he has taken to becoming one of the world’s most sought-after white ball bowlers and a player with nine limited-overs appearances for Australia.
He grew up dreaming of pulling on the baggy green given to Test cricketers, but couldn’t break through in his native New South Wales. He reflects: ‘It felt like a never-ending talent pool and although I was always in or around representative sides and played a bit of second XI cricket, and with the Sydney Sixers, I felt like I was pushing s*** uphill essentially.’
Ellis will return to the south coast in the coming weeks to help Hampshire defend their title
He has been starring in the IPL for the struggling Punjab Kings over the last few weeks
So, after finishing a degree in commerce, Ellis came to a crossroads. ‘I was like “OK, do I put on a suit and get a job or give cricket a crack?”. I decided to move to Tasmania.’
That meant a whole host of jobs over the next two years, to make ends meet and allow him to push his claims through district cricket on weekends.
‘It was the first time living out of home for me, and there were things I’d never thought about before like rent, water, and bonds, energy bills, this that, and the other,’ he says.
‘All my friends were getting promotions, saving for houses and I was doing the opposite, doing as much work as I could to keep me playing. I started a labouring job, but that was long hours, and I was getting to cricket on Saturdays so sore that I had to give it up.
‘Then I began work landscaping for a start-up business, but he was a sole trader who wanted me to work Saturdays, so he sacked me, and I spent four days doing furniture removal before they got rid of me too.
‘Then, I did a job for a marketing company who had a contract with the World Wildlife Fund.
‘It was fairly soul-crushing because I would walk around in a polo shirt with a panda on my chest and knock on doors. Basically, at 10am on a Tuesday everyone who is home is either sick or has a young child in need of sleep, so I got used to having the door slammed in my face.’
Ellis had aspirations to play test cricket for Australia, but came to a cross-roads of whether to stay in cricket
The door that did open, however, came when he was resigned to leaving his subsequent teaching assistant post behind and returning to Sydney.
‘Cricket Tasmania rang to tell me that even though they didn’t have a contract for me, they wanted me to do a full pre-season, and that if things went my way, I might get a game. At this stage, I was packed ready to go home. But it was a classic case of wondering what might have been if I hadn’t given it another six months.’
Just a few weeks later, in September 2019, the day after his 25th birthday, Ellis made his debut in Australian domestic cricket — a one-dayer versus Victoria. ‘From there, everything happened so quickly. I got an upgrade onto a contract, went into the Big Bash and it felt like several sliding doors moments helped my career go the way it did.’
Vitality Blast champions Hampshire Hawks and women’s T20 champs Southern Vipers feature in a double header at the Ageas Bowl on Friday May 26. Tickets available at www.ageasbowl.com
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