Spitfires second best in Final
Spitfires second best in Final

It wasn’t to be for Kent as they succumbed to defeat to Hampshire in the 2018 Royal London One Day Cup Final at Lord’s by sixty-one runs.

Despite a valiant effort with bat and ball on a glorious sunny day in north London on a wicket that looked favourable to the batsmen the damage may’ve been done early with Hampshire opening pair Alsop and Rossouw sharing a century stand.

Kent were grateful to Joe Denly for taking four late wickets in their opponents innings to somewhat curtail their innings-closed score of 330/7 but with a regular loss of wickets themselves sadly Kent were rarely in the box seat for the coveted silverware.

Kent’s opening bowling pair of Harry Podmore and Matt Henry gave Kent an excellent platform early on with the former looking the more likely wicket-taker having an early shout for leg-before turned down before inviting an inside edge, which flew between bat and stumps.

It was also worth noting on such a big occasion that the fielding for the Spitfires took from their bowlers lead showing great athleticism to stop a more significant flow of runs.

Captain Sam Billings showed confidence in his bowlers and his acumen to test their opponents regularly changing his bowling options to add variety.

However the batting track was looking in very good condition and one great for batting on – Despite this Billings winning the toss was confident of limiting Hampshire to a score that his charges could chase down later in the day.

Openers Alsop and Rossouw certainly took to the conditions accumulating scores with little danger with the former bringing about his half-century (95/0) shortly followed by the pairs century partnership (18th over).

After his early spell Henry returned to action but saw his first ball for the first six of the innings as Rossouw registered a half-century of his own.

There was certainly little to cheer for the Kent side and the faithful in the stands as the run count increased with the wicket count unaffected but it was with one of Billings’ rotation of bowlers that earned a much welcomed breakthrough.

Young left-armer Imran Qayyum was the go-to man rather than Kent’s headliners and more well-established bowlers.

Alsop (72) prodded at a ball outside off-stump and in advancing only slightly it was enough that in missing the ball Billings was quick enough to whip the bails from the stumps before the opener could retreat behind the crease (136/1).

At the half-way stage of the innings Hampshire were 157/1.

Keen for more breakthroughs Kent and Billings asked for a referral to the TV cameras as Darren Stevens got his fingers to a straight drive off his own bowling to redirect the ball into the stumps at the bowlers end but the batsman was deemed safe (182/1).

Not deterred Qayyum struck for the second time as James James Vince (23) holed out to Joe Denly at long-off (193/2) and to the crease came former Kent man and last years captain, Sam Northeast – Entering the field and approaching the square to a chorus of boos from sections of the Kent support.

Despite the loss of the wickets and much earlier on Rossouw looking a little nervous at times the opener reached his century with a single (220/2; 35.0)

And as the Hampshire innings approached the final ten over’s despite the lack of wickets the score was such that Kent had done a good job against their opponents to ensure the game had not gotten away from them to this point (10; 58/0, 20; 125/0, 30; 193/1, 40; 262/2).

With the final ten over’s of innings the sight of the opening bowlers returning generates interest however despite Podmore and Henry indeed returning to the attack Denly still had some over’s of his own to finish and stole the show for the Spitfires.

The perhaps unlikely source of wickets especially at this stage dragged Kent back into the game drawing Hampshire in for a ‘below-par’ or certainly a below-expected batting score as the vice captain took four wickets.

After long periods of play with little to shout about Denly changed the complexion of the game as he and Alex Blake joined forces sharing two wickets in consecutive over’s.

Opener and centurion Rossouw (125) holed out to Blake on the boundary (270/3) with Dawson (8) soon following lofting the ball to Blake, this time in the infield for a regulation catch (287/4) – The Dawson wicket proving extremely useful at this late stage in the innings, a wicket-maiden no less.

Then in Denly’s ninth and penultimate over he added some sheen to proceedings.

McManus (6) went big but lofted the ball much too high to fall as it fell to earth inside the boundary rope, however, it took an age to come to the ground. Sean Dickson watched it well in bright conditions to take an excellent running catch (297/5).

This brought former Kent loanee Joe Weatherley to the crease, Kent fielders now up against two former Kent players but only two balls later that was to end as Denly took a four-for trapping the new man leg-before for a duck (297/6).

Denly’s contribution at the end of his spell earned him excellent figures of 4/57.

Despite Podmore and Henry having an over left each Billings showed confidence in the earlier expensive Haggett and he didn’t disappoint closing the innings well with the ball including the wicket of Berg (9) as Hampshire closed their innings 330/7 – The highest score in a Lords final, a record dating back to 1993, and therefore a record-chasing score/total required by the Spitfires to win the trophy lay ahead.

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Heino Kuhn took on duty as Kent’s openers to get their side off to the best of starts certainly with an eye on emulating Hampshire’s opening pair and began well – Inside the first five over’s Kuhn was offered the chance of a free-hit for a no-ball and duly despatched it for six.

And it was Kuhn (31*) swinging his bat and timing it well to strike the ball for four over the infield and straight over the bowlers head to bring up the Spitfires fifty (50/1; 8.1; Bell-Drummond 14*) but no sooner had the landmark been reached Kuhn (32) was run out, Kent 55/1 (Bell-Drummond 18*).

Kuhn, a huge influence for Kent this season, a big wicket for Hampshire, but what would it mean for the Spitfires in their run chase?

Seeking stability Denly joined the fray with Bell-Drummond well set at the other end however after heroics with the ball earlier in the day it wasn’t to be for the new man, caught by Berg (12), involved once more after running out Kuhn, to strike a blow to the Spitfires chances (83/2).

Bell-Drummond (47*) and now Dickson (5*) had the responsibility to drive Kent on duly helping their side past one-hundred. Kent’s opener Bell-Drummond then took advantage of a short spell of deliveries to helps himself to runs to bring up his half-century and spend little time in the fifties (107/2; Bell-Drummond 52*, Dickson 6*).

With Hampshire looking to take the pace off the ball they had introduced Dawson and England man Mason Crane. The latter, seen as a key player in the Hampshire side so much so that he had reportedly had pain-killing injections ahead of this match, after only three expensive over’s was taken out of the attack – Kent had farmed almost thirty runs from three over’s but Hampshire had determined he was a risk to continue with – Undoubtedly to the disappointment of Kent players/staff and fans alike as they sought there way back into a game at a stage whereby their opponents were in the ascendency.

The Kent pair brought about their fifty partnership (133/2; Bell-Drummond 71*, Dickson 13*) and in doing so Dickson followed it with a clubbed six and Bell-Drummond a fine four through the off-side much to the delight and in front of a section of Kent support.

Kent now had their one-fifty requiring circa three runs per two balls as Hampshire brought back Crane to the attack and although Dickson clubbed a full-toss for four to long-on the spinner won-out as Dickson (30) skied one for an easy catch at Point (158/3; Bell-Drummond 79*).

The loss of Dickson brought about a sluggish period for Kent with runs hard to come by in a period of over’s crucial and critical to Kent’s chances of victory. Ten from four over’s was ended as Billings swept for four but Kent would be needing more of the same as the required run rate was tipping towards ten – With Stevens, Blake and Henry to come Kent still had hope but the time was certainly approaching where a risk or two would be required.

Without risk, Bell-Drummond was then out (86), bowled, but only after the on-field officials were keen to review it and so the TV umpire was involved – The Kent opener given out on review with Kent teetering on 179/4 (34.4; Billings 14).

The incoming batsman Alex Blake – With fifteen over’s remaining and a run-rate of ten an over required for Kent would Blake strive to drag his side back into contention in his customary fashion?

It was a cagey opening for Blake but after a short time getting himself in he indeed went big and struck Dawson for six however the next ball he succumbed but run out. Two was always going to be tight but Blake (9) was determined however he came just short to a direct hit from the boundary rope by Crane. Kent 190/5 (36.4).

Darren Stevens now at the crease for a Lord’s final long overdue for the forty-two year old and in light of the situation Stevens brought a glimpse of what was required clubbing a six to take Kent over two-hundred.

Risks were needed and Darren Stevens went for it however he lost his wicket seeking to lift the ball over the boundary but the ball only made it two thirds of the way to long-off caught by Weatherley. Stevens out for 12, Kent 217/6 (39.5).

With Stevens’ wicket the final ten over power-play came to roost, Kent requiring 114 runs from it aka 114 from 60 balls. In Dale Steyn Hampshire had a match-winner in their camp and only two balls into the final phase Henry (0) top-edged a hook shot and was caught in the deep just in front of the boundary rope (218/7).

Haggett was the new man but with the batsmen crossing it was captain Billings with the strike and took to Steyn peppering the ball around the ground taking his score into the forties – With Podmore and Qayyum to come, over’s running out and runs required it was time for the England man to show his talent on the big stage for his county.

And in the midst of a Kent defeat once again in a Lord’s final the Kent captain and England man was able to bring about his half-century.

Haggett (1) saw himself run-out in the forty-third over in the now thankless chase for runs, striking Steyn straight at Vince at mid-off and in going for a pre-determined single Vince hit the stumps leaving the Kent man well short of his target (241/8).

Akin to Haggett, Podmore and Billings sought to put on as many runs as possible in a now fruitless chase. In running one they looked for two but both hesitated and in deciding to go for it the hesitation proved costly for Podmore (1), run out at the non-strikers end, Kent 257/9.

Despite it being down to the final stand Qayyum and Billings put on a show for their vocal support not succumbing in quick succession to the wickets of Haggett and Podmore to keep adding runs to their Kent sides total in looking to give it an air of respectability.

However Kent were unable to see out their full allocation of fifty over’s as Billings (75; 269ao) looked to scoop the ball over the infield but could only loft it to Steyn who took a simple catch to bring the game to a close and victory for Hampshire.

Kent Spitfires: Bell-Drummond, Kuhn, Denly, Dickson, Billings (c, w), Stevens, Blake, Henry, Podmore, Haggett, Qayyum

Hampshire: Adams, Rossouw, Vince (w), Northeast, Weatherley, Dawson, McManus ©, Berg, Wood, Steyn, Topley

Match Summary:

Hampshire: 330/7 (Rossouw 125, Northeast 75*, Alsop 72; Denly 4/57, Qayyum 2/60

Kent Spitfires: 269ao (Bell-Drummond 86, Billings 75; Berg 2/43)