Cricket: Barnett books in at Lord's

Gloucestershire 240-7 Yorkshire 234-6 Gloucs win by 6 runs: NatWest semi-finals: Experienced batsman's 98 sets up a West Country showdown
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The Independent Online
A LITTLE bit of cricket history was made when Gloucestershire reached the final of the NatWest Trophy to set up the first all-West Country affair at Lord's against Somerset at the end of the month and their second appearance at headquarters in four weeks.

It so nearly was not though. It came down to a tale of the ancient and the modern. Yorkshire's Gary Fellows was not even a year old when Kim Barnett made his debut for Derbyshire in 1979, but the 21-year-old came close to stealing Barnett's thunder with a whirlwind 15-ball innings that took Yorkshire so close to their second final appearance in two weeks.

Man-of-the-match Barnett prevailed with a more sedate and circumspect knock which occupied 130 more deliveries than Fellows' effort, which took him to within touching distance of a century. And, despite fine innings from the Yorkshire captain David Byas and opener Michael Vaughan, Gloucestershire were able to complete a one-day treble over their opponents this season, although the margin of victory was dramatically less than the massive 124 runs of the Super Cup final at the beginning of the month.

Wicketkeeper Jack Russell was in peak form, standing up to the Gloucestershire seamers and keeping pressure on the batsmen at the death. His stumping of Anthony McGrath was accomplished with the speed of a striking cobra and would have intimidated many an old hand. But not Fellows. He was able to drag things back when they seemed to be sliding out of their control.

Yet for long spells it had looked as if Yorkshire would end their dismal run against the West Country side. Vaughan pieced together an excellent 54, Richard Harden and Byas added 85 in 18 overs. But the Gloucestershire bowlers kept their heads. Fellows did flog Michael Cawdron for 20 in the penultimate over, a blitz which included a couple of monster sixes, but when he perished, chopping on in the last over with nine runs needed, victory was Gloucestershire's.

There had been no look of urgency to the Gloucestershire innings. Barnett, having been beaten a few times early on - most frequently by Ryan Sidebottom - gradually got the measure of an unhelpful pitch and his shots moved from edge to middle, but it was with measured tread that they had to proceed.

Yorkshire, for their part, lacked the penetration to take advantage of such caution. It did not help that their attack had been shorn of the services of four seamers and they have also had to wave goodbye to Greg Blewett, their overseas signing, who is honing his skills in the Australian training camp.

Of the bowlers, Darren Gough and Matthew Hoggard are both out for the rest of the season; Gavin Hamilton was hobbling on a dodgy hamstring while poor Chris Silverwood, far from being able to celebrate his England call- up, had to miss the tie to be with his wife Emma in hospital after she had been injured in a car crash.

Gloucestershire seemed unable to take advantage of the absences although Barnett, whose career spans three decades, managed to hang around almost as long, it seemed, as he has been in the game. He has seen it all, done most of it, the T-shirt needs patching up and the video is a Betamax; in his 21 seasons he has appeared in five Cup finals, four of them for Derbyshire, as well as the Super Cup.

Barnett's first 26 runs occupied that number of overs as the Yorkshire spinners Vaughan and left armer Ian Fisher tied things down. He did get going eventually, however, after the fall of Jack Russell, who had come in up the order.

Russell was in for 11 overs before giving way to Rob Cunliffe, and suddenly things changed. He and Barnett knocked off exactly a hundred in the next 14 overs. They were greatly aided by a disastrous - and ultimately telling - over from Sidebottom. The promising left arm paceman conceded 23 runs in his ninth over.

Then three wickets in rapid succession left Barnett nervously nosing around in the nineties, until an ill-judged quick single saw him run out by inches a frustrating two short of the mark. The remaining batsmen scrambled a further 15 invaluable runs.