Surrey lost a last ball thriller at a packed County Ground in Chelmsford – with Essex opener James Franklin carrying his bat throughout the game.
After winning the toss and batting first, Steven Davies and Jason Roy got Surrey off to a good start as both found the boundary with regularity to add 42 before Davies was caught by Graham Napier at mid on off Reece Topley.
Murali Kartik was pushed up the order but was quickly run out and Rory Burns made his T20 debut at number four. He teamed well with Roy, running smartly between the wickets and playing with good composure before Roy was caught, again off Topley, by Ryan ten Doeschate.
Surrey continued to play well, building partnerships but also losing wickets regularly with Matthew Spriegel (35) once again playing an important innings as others batted around him.
They eventually ended on 144/9, with Dirk Nannes taking what could have been a crucial single off the final ball of the innings.
In response, Kartik had Mark Pettini caught by Burns in the first over of the innings and Greg Smith went shortly afterwards, caught by Stuart Meaker off Nannes.
Ryan ten Doeschate went cheaply, caught by stand in captain Gareth Batty off the returning Chris Tremlett, but James Foster (23) played well alongside Franklin as Essex began to move through the gears.
However, when Foster was removed by Stuart Meaker there was a tangible shift in momentum, which was ramped up as Tremlett took two wickets in two balls in the following over, first cleaning up Adam Wheater and then having Graham Napier caught first ball by a running Batty.
Michael Comber was the next man in and struggled to score at the rate required, with Franklin stepping up to ensure that Essex stayed in the chase.
Comber was eventually caught by Jason Roy off Meaker for 12 from 19 balls and going into the final over, Essex required fifteen to win.
Dirk Nannes bowled the over and got off to the worst possible start, with new man Tim Phillips lifting him over the ropes for six first ball. The Australian began to retrieve the situation, with the Essex men playing and missing as they took singles to the wicket keeper.
Five were needed from the final two balls and Phillips got a giant stroke of luck when at attempted leg glance took a leading edge and flew high into the air over Davies’ head and over the rope for four, leaving just a single required from the final ball, which was eventually lumped through mid on by Phillips as the home side got the win by three wickets.
In what has been an incredibly emotional week for all of the Surrey family, what really mattered tonight was that the players were out on the field doing what they do best again – playing cricket.