The Guardian: Hampshire stars face Kent’s home-grown underdogs in Royal London final

First Lord’s final between the sides since 1992
James Vince and Heino Kuhn have been prolific run-scorers

The human interest stories for Saturday’s Royal London One-Day Cup final are varied and many. Kent’s 42-year-old Darren Stevens will be negotiating the Lord’s slope in what is his 21st year of first-class cricket. The former Kent captain Sam Northeast, a Hampshire winter signing, will be going up against his restless successor Sam Billings, who, in a quiet season, has a point to prove.

The Hampshire captain, James Vince, unwanted in any of England’s squads, has followed each announcement of his omission with huge centuries, including a 126-ball 171 in the semi-final against Yorkshire. Kent’s Joe Denly is averaging 80 in the tournament and enjoying the role of senior statesman, while Hampshire’s Joe Weatherley was a 15-year-old fan in the crowd when Hampshire last made a Lord’s final, in 2012.

Hampshire who are, perhaps unfairly, seen as lavishly funded and overseas-stocked are favourites and the pace of Dale Steyn is proving more than useful. Yet it is Hampshire’s young Englishmen who may prove the difference; Weatherley hit his first championship century this week while Reece Topley and Liam Dawson took four wickets each in Thursday’s England Lions one-day win over West Indies A.

Kent play the home-grown underdog card well. When the former West Indies captain Jimmy Adams was appointed coach in 2012 he entered with a “strong desire to see young players develop”. His successor, Matt Walker, has continued in the same vein. After some years of toil, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Alex Blake are fulfilling the potential with which they have so long been touted. They form the core of a team full of spirit, coming off the back of two championship wins and, in Denly’s words, brimming with more togetherness than ever before.

Kent have a couple of their own superstar imports. New Zealand’s Matt Henry has been destructive with the ball while the South African Heino Kuhn, whose Test career began and ended in England last year, has scored four centuries, including one in the gripping semi-final against Worcestershire, in five List A innings.

There is an air of nostalgia about Saturday; it is the first Lord’s final between the sides since Hampshire won the 1992 Benson & Hedges Cup Final and it will be one of the last. After 55 years of Lord’s one-day cup finals the ECB announced that it will move to Trent Bridge from 2020.

Hampshire (likely): Jimmy Adams, Rilee Rossouw, James Vince*, Sam Northeast, James Weatherley, Liam Dawson, Lewis McManus, Gareth Berg, Chris Wood, Dale Steyn, Mason Crane.

Kent (likely): Daniel Bell-Drummond, Heino Kuhn, Joe Denly, Sean Dickson, Sam Billings, Darren Stevens, Alex Blake, Matt Henry, Harry Podmore, Grant Stewart, Imran Qayyum.

Umpires: Michael Gough, Graham Lloyd

• A version of this article was originally published in The Guardian on 30 June 2018. To access the original please click here.

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