Cricket: West Midland rivalries renewed: Uncomplicated Haynes sees Worcestershire into Benson and Hedges Cup final

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The Independent Online
Hampshire 244-6

Worcestershire 245-7

Worcestershire win by 3 wickets

THE Rev Andrew Wingfield- Digby might have been dropped for next week's Test match at Lord's, but there is probably a job for him at headquarters on Benson and Hedges Cup final day, where a spot of 'love thy neighbour' preaching will represent an even tougher assignment than convincing Raymond Illingworth that there is more to faith than hoping Devon Malcolm can bowl one or two straight ones.

Worcestershire yesterday joined their West Midland rivals Warwickshire in the final after seeing off Hampshire with rather more comfort than a three-wicket margin suggests, and although relations between the two counties are a bit more civilised than they used to be, there will still be a fair amount of passion around St John's Wood on 9 July.

These two sides have only once before met in a knock-out final, in the old pre-helmet (not to mention pre-designer stubble) Gillette Cup days of 1966, when the likes of Tom Graveney, Basil D'Oliviera, Dennis Amiss and M J K Smith were on the opposing team sheets.

In the Warwickshire side then was another Smith better known by his initials, A C, who once illustrated the lack of neighbourliness between the two teams when, by way of protest at the usual non- declaration, he removed his wicketkeeping pads and went off to sit on the pavilion steps for an indignant fume. As the current TCCB chief executive, A C would doubtless have taken rather a dim view of this sort of behaviour.

The climax of yesterday's semi-final at New Road, which began on Tuesday in front of 5,000 spectators, was witnessed by something closer to 500, with Worcestershire having retained sufficient adrenalin to knock off a tricky 127 runs from the final 22 overs with 14 deliveries to spare.

Hampshire, by contrast, performed like a side who had suddenly forgotten how to play the game overnight, and their attack dished up so much dross that they would probably have failed to defend 244 had they been bowling to the Worcestershire tea ladies.

Having said that, it was a high-class innings from Worcestershire's home-bred 24-year-old Gavin Haynes which turned the game and earned him the man of the match gong. Haynes has been around at New Road, albeit in relative anonymity, for some time, but his Birmingham League upbringing was not hard to spot from a highly uncomplicated method, which involved a greyhound's pace between the wickets, and a hearty biff at anything bowled in the slot.

Haynes might have been out first ball when Worcestershire resumed on 118 for 3, carving Winston Benjamin close enough to gully for the diving Matthew Keech to have done better than a double handful of fresh air, but from 11 not out overnight, Haynes struck 65 off 62 deliveries before splicing a catch to cover.

The key partnership was his liaison of 77 in nine overs with David Leatherdale, and only Norman Cowans, not normally associated with economy, bowled with anything approaching competence.

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