Cricket: Lara and Hick in the shade: Simon O'Hagan sees the man given star billing fail to shine in a one-sided affair

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The Independent Online
IT WAS billed as Lara v Hick - the greatest batsman in the world against the man who should have been. It worked out like that, but only in the sense that when Brian Lara wafted one uppishly towards midwicket, who should catch it but Graeme Hick.

Between them they managed a mere 35 runs on a day when almost nothing that was expected to happen did happen. Yet one was still left with a feeling of anti-climax. The nearest thing to a local derby in 23 B & H finals was oddly lacking in passion or rivalry.

It was always too much to expect anything to match the last one-day final to be played here - Warwickshire's epic victory over Sussex in the NatWest Trophy last September. But nobody - certainly not the bookies - thought we would see one-sidedness on quite this scale.

Not for the first time on the big occasion, it was Hick's failure to impose himself that was partly responsible. There was no great mystery to this. With a technique that at times was as wooden as his bat, he badly lacked the improvisatory skills needed in the one-day game.

As for Lara, the word is that he has developed a taste for the quiet life, in which case yesterday will have suited him just fine. With little else to do in the field, he busied himself fetching and carrying helmets and caps - who says I'm not a team man? - and squeezed in a few autographs on the Tavern boundary.

By the time he came out to bat, at five to five, the match virtually won, he was the only real point of interest left as far as the neutrals were concerned. There was a lovely cover drive for three off Hick and that was about it. Like the moon-walkers of 25 years ago, Lara has come back from another world and, for the moment at any rate, seems to find this one rather less interesting.

But one-day finals are not about superstars - they are about solid county pros. Such players were everywhere you looked in the Warwickshire team yesterday, no fewer than six men sharing the nine Worcestershire wickets to fall. Most gold award winners in finals past have performed more spectacularly than Paul Smith did with his three wickets and 42 not out, but none more wholeheartedly.

It was the sort of display that his team-mates will have found especially gratifying. As Dermot Reeve, the Warwickshire captain, stressed afterwards, it is not enough just to play well. You have to play well when it matters.

If this was a victory built primarily on perspiration, it was not entirely lacking in inspiration, as Tom Moody, the one man who might have made it Worcestershire's day, discovered to his cost. Trevor Penney's run-out of Moody, the classic swoop and direct hit with only one stump to aim at, came from another match altogether.

Warwickshire have always maintained they are not a one- man team, and they have had to prove that in recent weeks when Lara has gone a-wandering. Anyone who still doubted it has no reason to now.