Cricket / Benson and Hedges Cup Final: Kent are cowed by Marshall's show of pace - Smith puts Hampshire in total command as Ealham's belated flurry fails to threaten the target / Martin Johnson reports from Lord's

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GIVEN the presence of a crowd (and a surprisingly large number of people had returned for the rained-over denouement at Lord's) there are two reasons for the closing stages of a one-day match to be played out in near total silence. An unbearably close finish, or, as was the case yesterday, a numbingly routine one.

The total that Hampshire had posted (at Kent's invitation) on Saturday had never previously been surpassed in a Benson and Hedges final, and Benson's men did not remotely threaten to overtake it yesterday.

The MCC is apparently thinking of offering Lord's as a venue for baseball in a year's time - which is not quite the formula for an outbreak of mass hysteria from the egg-and-bacon tie brigade in the Long Room that some might imagine, in that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between baseball and one-day cricket. On this occasion, though, Kent's late-order bat-flailing was no more than a token, and the final margin of 41 runs represents a chasm in this type of combat.

Having collected the man-of-the-match award in last summer's NatWest final, Robin Smith's innings of 90 on Saturday won him what these sponsors describe as the Gold Award, but Kent's failure to make a contest of it yesterday had more than a little to do with the bowling of Malcolm Marshall.

The West Indian had waited 14 years for an occasion such as this, and the neat adrenalin he was running on clearly helped him roll back several of his 34 years yesterday. Several times in his first two spells, which yielded 11 runs from a total of seven overs, Kent's batsmen were playing their shots at the same time as the ball was thudding into Bobby Parks' gloves.

Marshall did not command such respect later on, when Mark Ealham struck one of the biggest sixes that the Barbadian can ever have been hit for, but in finishing with 3 for 33, Marshall took his tally of wickets for Hampshire to 999. If a similar number sprang to mind for Kent, it was only in terms of a telephone dial.

Trevor Ward played and missed so often in Marshall's new-ball spell that when he finally got close to one, Mervyn Kitchen's finger went up almost as an act of euthanasia. At the other end, Mark Benson was having equal difficulty locating Cardigan Connor, and the Kent captain finally sent for a change of bat. A wider one, most probably.

However, once Marshall and Connor gave way to the change bowlers, Benson and Carl Hooper came together in the one partnership (78 in 15 overs) that put Hampshire under any sort of pressure. This manifested itself in two hopeless misfields out on the boundary from Connor and Tony Middleton, and had Benson and Hooper still been in residence at lunch, the psychological advantage might have been with Kent.

In the final two overs of the morning, however, Hampshire got them both. Benson had his woodwork re-arranged essaying a cross-batted hoik at Kevan James, and Hooper was bowled off the bottom edge by Shaun Udal on his third change of mind about the stroke. When it comes to high-class players doing something dozy in mid-innings, Hooper is in a different league from David Gower.

The period of re-entrenchment that inevitably followed left Kent requiring 86 from their final 10 overs, which was a difficult enough task without Marshall being available for four of them. This did not appear to bother Ealham, who followed a huge hit for six into the Compton stand with a thunderous pull for four down to the Grandstand, but by this time Kent had lost three more wickets.

The crucial one was that of Matthew Fleming, who plays with whatever phrase now has less ticklish connotations than gay abandon, and hits a cricket ball harder than any player in the country. Mark Nicholas's relief when he clung on to an overhead catch at mid-on was transparent.

Gower, the 1992 model, also displayed something close to exhilaration when he pouched an enormous skier sent up by Graham Cowdrey, and after Gower had held an exceptionally fast edge at slip from Richard Davis, Ealham was down to his final partner.

It would have been nice for Marshall to have made it a round 1,000 wickets in his final over, but Connor never gave him the opportunity. Connor sent down his slower ball, and Ealham was long since through a stroke intended to clear the pavilion when it hit the stumps.

LORD'S SCOREBOARD

(Kent won toss)

HAMPSHIRE

T C Middleton lbw b Hooper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(64 min, 51 balls, 1 four)

V P Terry b Igglesden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

(85 min, 77 balls, 5 fours)

R A Smith run out (Taylor). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90

(130 min, 108 balls, 6 fours)

D I Gower lbw b Fleming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

(67 min, 52 balls)

*M C J Nicholas c Ealham b Fleming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

(24 min, 23 balls, 2 fours)

M D Marshall not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

(23 min, 22 balls, 2 fours)

K D James not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

(6 min, 2 balls)

Extras (lb3 w3 nb4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Total (for 5, 204 min, 55 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253

Fall: 1-68 (Middleton), 2-86 (Terry), 3-171 (Gower), 4-205 (Nicholas), 5-234 (Smith).

Did not bat: R J Parks, S D Udal, J R Ayling, C A Connor.

Bowling: Igglesden 11-1-39-1 (nb3) (6-1-15-0, 5-0-24-1); Ealham 9-0-46-0 (nb2) (5-0-23-0, 4-0-23-0); McCague 11-0-43-0 (w2) (4-0-14-0, 7-0-29-0); Hooper 11-1-41-1; Davis 5-0-18-0; Fleming 8-0-63-2 (w3) (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 53 min, 14.5 overs. 100: 102 min, 27.5 overs. Lunch: 148 for 2 (Smith 51, Gower 24), 39 overs. Rain during and after lunch prevented restart until 4.05pm. 150: 139 min, 39.5 overs. Rain stopped play 4.07pm. Tea: taken at 4.10pm, 151 for 2 (Smith 53, Gower 25), 39.5 overs. Restart: 4.34pm. 200: 173 min, 48.4 overs. 250: 203 min, 54.4 overs. Innings closed 5.41pm.

Smith's 50: 69 min, 69 balls, 5 fours.

KENT

(Saturday: 4 for 0)

T R Ward c Parks b Marshall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

(30 min, 26 balls)

*M R Benson b James. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

(131 min, 91 balls, 7 fours)

N R Taylor c Parks b Ayling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

(38 min, 32 balls, 1 four)

C L Hooper b Udal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

(65 min, 56 balls, 2 fours)

G R Cowdrey c Gower b Marshall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(63 min, 50 balls)

M V Fleming c Nicholas b Ayling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

(39 min, 34 balls, 2 fours)

S A Marsh b Udal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

(13 min, 10 balls)

M A Ealham b Connor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

(22 min, 14 balls, 2 fours, 1 six)

M J McCague b Udal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

(3 min, 1 ball)

R P Davis c Gower b Marshall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

(6 min, 3 balls)

A P Igglesden not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(5 min, 2 balls)

Extras (b1 lb11 w5 nb4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Total (214 min, 52.3 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212

Fall: 1-17 (Ward), 2-38 (Taylor), 3-116 (Benson), 4-116 (Hooper), 5-171 (Fleming), 6-182 (Marsh), 7-186 (Cowdrey), 8-194 (McCague), 9-204 (Davis), 10-212 (Ealham).

Bowling: Connor 9.3-2-27-1 (w2) (6-2-13-0, 1-0-3-0, 2-0-11-0, 0.3-0-0-1); Marshall 10-1-33-3 (nb2 w1) (5-1-7-1, 2-0-4-0, 3-0-22-2); Ayling 11-0-38-2 (nb2 w1) (8-0-29-1, 3-0-9-1); James 11-1-35-1 (7-1-17-0, 2-0-9-1, 2-0-9-0); Udal 11-0-67-3 (9-0-54-1, 2-0-13-0).

Progress: Saturday: Bad light stopped play at 6.01pm. 4 for 0 (Ward 1, Benson 2) 1.2 overs. Play abandoned at 6.30pm. Sunday: 50: 86 min, 22.1 overs. 100: 124 min, 31.2 overs. Lunch: 121 for 4 (Cowdrey 0, Fleming 5), 35 overs. 150: 163 min, 42.1 overs. 200: 203 min, 50.5 overs. Innings closed 3.08pm.

Benson's 50: 124 min, 84 balls, 6 fours.

Umpires: J H Hampshire and M J Kitchen.

Hampshire won by 41 runs.

Gold Award: R A Smith (Hampshire).

Adjudicator: M J Stewart.

(Photograph omitted)

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