Sam Northeast’s match-winning century started and ended to mild, but universal, applause. The least you might expect on reaching three figures but, for the former Kent captain (105 not out from 95 balls), not necessarily a given; in last year’s final at Lord’s Northeast walked out to a sea of boos from the Kent travelling support.
Hampshire lost on Duckworth-Lewis, Glamorgan were washed out and Gareth Batty scrambled some lower order runs to see his team to victory. This is not a premonition of what awaits us on Wednesday, when the Royal London One-Day Cup gets underway, but the last time white-ball cricket featured so early in an English summer. A summer, as it happens, in which early-season domestic cricket was there to “fill the void” as the country awaited an Ashes bout which ended in perhaps the most glorious denouement to befall English cricket. The precedent bodes well.
Lancashire (267-4) lead Middlesex (265) by 2 runs
If Keaton Jennings was the question at the start of play, Haseeb Hameed, by its close, was the answer. Once a vulnerable target for the shorter ball, now it was his forte, as the Lancashire opener reached his century with a neatly pulled six off the back foot.
• Rapids chase down Sharks’ 157 with nine balls to spare
• Cox smashes winning runs and finishes 46 not out
Given the day out had begun almost eight hours previously, it was a show of restraint that we were a full 15 minutes into the final before we saw the first conga line. A similarly disciplined Worcestershire bowling performance meant the Finals Day debutants were crowned champions of the Vitality Blast, chasing down Sussex’s 157 with nine balls to spare.
Edgbaston will be full for a Finals Day that promises to show some of the game’s less heralded sides at their Twenty20 best
Surrey have already been crowned county champions, England have wrapped up a Test series victory over India and the football season is back in full flow. Now, three weeks after the Vitality Blast’s quarter-finals, Somerset, the Worcestershire Rapids, Lancashire Lightning and the Sussex Sharks descend on Birmingham on Saturday for Finals Day.
• Hampshire 330-7; Kent 269. Hampshire win by 61 runs
• Sam Billings scores 75 off 60 but four run-outs cost Kent
Forty years of hurt, and Kent will still be dreaming. While England’s footballers look to rectify 52 years without a trophy, Kent’s last one-day triumph was in 1978 and the wait continues. A Rilee Rossouw century, four run-outs and an unbeaten 75 by their former captain Sam Northeast denied Kent a title once more, with Hampshire ultimately easing to a 61-run victory.
• 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.
• Australia 277-9; Sussex 220 – Australia win by 57 runs
• Marcus Stoinis’s steady hundred sets up victory
There are some sporting spectacles where crowds are attracted more for the occasion than the sport itself. This one-day tour match between Sussex and Australia, innocuous enough when the fixture was first scheduled, was one such occasion. Sometimes they are drawn to the presence of a great player, or one on the precipice of a major landmark. This match, however, was notable not for who was here but who was not.