Worcestershire win by 7 runs
WORCESTERSHIRE left Lord's exactly a month ago muttering darkly about bad pitches and bad luck but knowing, deep within, that their crushing Benson and Hedges Cup final defeat to Warwickshire was due as much to their own poor performance as to the toss of a coin.
The desire to exorcise that memory, as much as anything, has been the motivation behind their NatWest Trophy run. Yesterday it reached its zenith as they claimed a return final with Warwickshire on 3 September after an extraordinary match marked by astonishing power-hitting.
Much of it came from Tom Moody, who made 180 off 161 balls and, with Tim Curtis, created the largest partnership in the history of one-day cricket. But a fair bit came from Surrey who, chasing an immense 358 to win, thumped the ball into the stands to the very end and fell seven runs short.
It was even closer than it sounds. Requiring 19 off the last four balls, Joey Benjamin hit successive sixes and was then caught attempting a third by Moody, all six foot six and a half inches of him, leaping high above his head on the boundary. A smaller man . . .
But it was not to be, and Surrey will have to be consoled by an unwanted record, that of the largest total by a losing side.
Three days after their Lord's defeat, Worcestershire had eased the pain by thumping Surrey in a Sunday League match at The Oval in which Moody and Curtis put on 219. Surrey could never have imagined a repeat, but yesterday they put on 309 undefeated in 48 overs, the last 201 coming in 20. The assault eclipsed the 303 scored by Alan Barrow and Henry Fotheringham for Natal against a South African XI in 1975-76.
Moody, clubbing the ball across The Oval's broad acres, was untameable; his last 130 came off 66 balls and his score was the highest against a first- class county in this competition. But there were equal heroics later, with Adam Hollioake the pick of a series of bold innings.
If Moody was magnificent the Surrey bowling was hardly mean, but as the Worcester men also found on a flawless pitch, it is difficult to maintain your line when the ball keeps disappearing to the far horizons. It did not help that Moody was twice dropped - both difficult chances - by James Boiling at 39 off himself and Cameron Cuffy in the deep on 157.
At times Moody's innings matched Viv Richards in its brutality, at others Barry Richards in its audacity. One shot in particular, a back-foot six over long-off off Joey Benjamin, was breathtaking. Curtis, left unbeaten on 99 in the Sunday League match, was the ideal foil, his 135 coming off 180 balls.
It was a daunting target but one which Surrey, with their phalanx of middle-order hitters, appeared more capable of reaching than most. Certainly Worcestershire thought so, taking the new ball with four - soon to be five - on the boundary and no slip.
Surrey started poorly, Alec Stewart chipping Moody to Graeme Hick at mid-wicket in the 10th over, but were on course at tea with Darren Bicknell emulating Curtis's tempered aggression and Graham Thorpe scampering twos and cracking fours.
It was not quite as fluent as his Test innings, and during the interval Thorpe had a net on the outfield, a la Lara. He would have been better advised to practice his running: having already survived being stranded mid-pitch attempting a leg bye, he was run out in the second over after tea, foolishly seeking a second on Hick's arm.
If Hick's batting had been disappointing - he made five before being brilliantly caught by Hollioake - his other all-round qualities have rarely been better displayed. Boldly bowled at the death, he caught and bowled both Darren Bicknell and Hollioake to finish with four wickets.
The latter's departure, after a 36-ball 60, looked to have ended Surrey's chase but Benjamin, with 25 in 16 balls, took them to the very brink. This season they have lost home semi-finals in both competitions; the Championship remains a chance, but they will not be easy to lift after this.
For Worcestershire, still without a title in this competition after three finals, revenge and restoration beckon.
(Surrey won toss)
* T S Curtis not out 136
A C H Seymour b Pigott 10
G A Hick c Hollioake b Benjamin 5
T M Moody not out 180
Extras (lb8 w2 nb16) 26
Total (for 2, 60 overs)357
Fall: 1-41 2-48.
Did not bat: G R Haynes, D A Leatherdale, S J Rhodes, S R Lampitt, P J Newport, R K Illingworth, N V Radford.
Bowling: Cuffy 10-0-66-0; Benjamin 12-1- 72-1; Pigott 12-1-61-1; M P Bicknell 12-0-62- 0; Boiling 10-1-48-0; Hollioake 4-0-40-0.
D J Bicknell c and b Hick 89
* A J Stewart c Hick b Moody 21
G P Thorpe run out 49
D M Ward b Radford 9
A D Brown c Illingworth b Moody 52
A J Hollioake c and b Hick 60
M P Bicknell b Hick 2
A C S Pigott b Hick 0
J Boiling c Leatherdale b Radford 24
J E Benjamin c Moody b Lampitt 25
C E Cuffy not out 2
Extras (b5 lb9 w3) 17
Total (59.5 overs)350
Fall: 1-38 2-127 3-151 4-226 5-229 6-235
7-235 8-286 9-334.
Bowling: Newport 6-1-31-0; Moody 8-0-43- 2; Illingworth 12-1-46-0; Lampitt 8.5-0-76-1; Radford 12-1-63-2; Hick 11-0-54-4; Leatherdale 2-0-23-0.
Umpires: R Palmer and A G T Whitehead.Reuse content