Cricket / Benson and Hedges Cup Final: Some fume but Warwickshire chug cheerfully on: Early movement on the pitch and for the exits as poor Worcestershire are blown away in one-sided Benson and Hedges Cup final

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Worcestershire . . . . . . 170-9

Warwickshire . . . . . . . 172-4

Warwickshire win by six wickets

MANY more cup finals like this one and the BBC will not require any more prompting from the National Heritage committee to consign tobacco-sponsored sport to the nearest ashtray.

In fact, the only person in need of a nerve-calming fag at the Benson and Hedges Cup final at Lord's on Saturday was the Beeb's late-night highlights editor, who would not have been much less desperate during his cutting-room search for 45 minutes' worth of viewable videotape had the opposition channels all been transmitting synchronised swimming.

A blissful day might have guaranteed the first essential for a one- day final, a one-day finish, but the weather can certainly not guarantee essential No 2, an exciting finish. With the possible (but by no means certain) exception of Warwickshire's supporters, the crowd would have had more of a buzz watching the groundsman mowing the grass.

The groundsman, in fact, must take some responsibility for the most one-sided Lord's final since 1988, when Hampshire were collecting their winners' medals a couple of minutes after the pavilion clock struck five. Worcestershire lost the toss and the movement in the pitch was in direct contrast to the movement around the boundary edge, where the official ball retrievers were rendered more or less redundant.

It is perhaps time for Lord's to re-examine its policy of preparing freshly cut strips for these big-occasion matches, as it inevitably means that there is more sap in the ground - and more purchase for the seam - than on drier, previously used pitches. As the match, if such it can be described, wore on, the most extravagant movement was mostly towards the exits.

Warwickshire's bowlers, to their credit, used the conditions particularly well and while there was still some assistance in the pitch when Worcestershire bowled on it, their self-belief had evaporated alongside a near undefendable total. Worcestershire hit their peak at one minute past 11, when they were 4 for 0 after two balls. After that, it was all downhill.

Graeme Hick looked even more diffident than he has done playing for England, although when he was finally dispatched by the man of the match, Paul Smith, the ball cut back so sharply that the umpire's finger was less of a triumph for geometry as trigger-nometry.

It mattered scarcely a jot that Worcestershire bat a long way down. From 128 for 8, a stand of 42 in eight overs between Neal Radford and Richard Illingworth was the equivalent of sticking chewing gum over the hole in the Titanic. Illingworth's major contribution, in fact, was to Warwickshire when his call for a nonsensical single to the best fielder in the match - Trevor Penney - ran out their top scorer, Tom Moody.

No side has successfully defended a total as low as 170 in this final since 1974, but Warwickshire were none the less determined to avoid the slow chisel method which might conceivably have produced a modicum of tension. Instead, Dominic Ostler and Roger Twose set off as though they were chasing last summer's NatWest target of 322 and Warwickshire were almost past the winning post without Brian Lara being required to bat.

In the event, an obliging run- out after the opening pair had put on 91 brought the edges of the Lord's seats into play for the first and only time in the day, but it was quickly back to the snooze position when Lara spooned a catch to midwicket after 17 balls. He claims he is badly in need of a rest but after Saturday, Warwickshire can reasonably claim that he has already had one.

And so the pre-match billing of Lara versus Hick fizzled out in a combined total of 35 runs from 97 balls, and the game itself was decided - as this type of cricket so often is - by the foot soldiers. Look at Hampshire. With Richards, Greenidge, Roberts and Marshall, they never even reached a Lord's final until 1988, and once there they won largely through the bowling of the never to be heard of again Stephen Jefferies.

Take Lara out of the Warwickshire side and you would be hard pressed to find less charisma in a side half-way up the Birmingham League. On the other hand, they go about their business in a way which reflects credit on their coach, Bob Woolmer, and most of all their captain, Dermot Reeve.

If Reeve did not spend most of his time on the field looking as though his underwear had been invaded by a colony of ants, he would come across as one of the more anonymous cricketers, but he remains the spark plug of the Warwickshire engine.

It is no Formula One piece of machinery, more like one of those dieselled rep's cars that chug efficiently up and down the motorway. At the moment, though, Warwickshire are chugging towards all four titles.

SCOREBOARD FROM LORD'S

(Warwickshire won toss)

WORCESTERSHIRE

* T S Curtis c Piper b Small . . . . . . 13

(43 min, 33 balls, 3 fours)

A C H Seymour b Munton. . . . . . . . . . 3

(5 min, 3 balls)

G A Hick lbw b P A Smith. . . . . . . . .27

(89 min, 80 balls, 3 fours)

T M Moody run out (Penney). . . . . . . .47

(130 min, 84 balls, 2 fours)

G R Haynes c Piper b N M K Smith. . . . .22

(43 min, 47 balls, 1 four)

D A Leatherdale c Ostler b P A Smith. . . 4

(17 min, 18 balls)

S J Rhodes lbw b Twose. . . . . . . . . . 0

(3 min, 2 balls)

S R Lampitt c Penney b P A Smith. . . . . 1

(4 min, 7 balls)

R K Illingworth lbw b Reeve. . . . . . . 18

(36 min, 26 balls)

N V Radford not out. . . . . . . . . . . 23

(35 min, 30 balls, 1 four)

P J Newport not out. . . . . . . . . . . . 1

(2 min, 2 balls)

Extras (lb2 w5 nb4). . . . . . . . . . . .11

Total (for 9, 212 min, 55 overs). . . . .170

Fall: 1-10 (Seymour), 2-28 (Curtis), 3-55 (Hick), 4-100 (Haynes), 5-124. (Leatherdale), 6-124 (Rhodes), 7-125 (Lampitt), 8-126 (Moody), 9-168 (Illingworth).

Bowling: Small 11-4-26-1 (one spell); Munton 11-3-29-1 (nb2 w1) (9-3-15-1, 2-0-14-0); P A Smith 11-1-34-3 (w1) (7-0-25-1, 4-1-9-2); Reeve 9-1-38-1 (w1) (7-1-24-0, 2-0-14-0); N M K Smith 5-0-16-1 (w1); Twose 8-1-25-1 (w1) (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 89 min, 133 balls. Lunch: 95-3 (Moody 28, Haynes 19) 35 overs. 100: 139 min, 221 balls. 150: 196 min, 313 balls.

WARWICKSHIRE

D P Ostler run out. . . . . . . . . .55

(60 min, 54 balls, 7 fours)

R G Twose run out. . . . . . . . . . 37

(60 min, 42 balls, 2 fours)

B C Lara c Hick b Newport . . . . . . 8

(16 min, 17 balls)

P A Smith not out. . . . . . . . . . 42

(77 min, 42 balls, 6 fours)

Asif Din c Rhodes b Moody . . . . . .15

(39 min, 40 balls, 1 four)

* D A Reeve not out. . . . . . . . . .9

(24 min, 24 balls, 2 fours)

Extras (lb1, w5). . . . . . . . . . . 6

Total (for 4, 174 min, 44.2 overs). 172

Fall: 1-91 (Ostler), 2-98 (Twose), 3-103 (Lara), 4-147 (Asif Din).

Did not bat: T L Penney, K J Piper, N M K Smith, G C Small, T A Munton.

Bowling: Moody 11-2-31-1 (7-2-19-0, 4-0-12-1); Newport 8-0-29-1 (w2) (2-0-7-0, 6-0-22-1); Lampitt 9.2-1-38-0 (4-0-25-0, 5.2-1-13-0); Illingworth 6-0-22-0 (4-0-16-0, 2-0-6-0); Radford 8-0-39-0 (w3) (4-0-16-0, 2-0-5-0,

2-0-18-0); Hick 2-0-12-0 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 46 min, 77 balls. Tea: 98-2 (Lara 4) 24.3 overs. 100: 100 min, 152 balls. 150: 157 min, 241 balls. Innings closed 6.37pm.

Ostler's 50: 66 min, 63 balls, 8 fours.

Man of the Match: P A Smith (Warwickshire).

WARWICKSHIRE WIN BY SIX WICKETS

Umpires: H D Bird, K E Palmer, B Leadbeater.

(Photograph omitted)

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