Cricket: What a difference one day made: 1993 marks the 30th aniversary of the first Gillette Cup final. Rob Steen looks back

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The Independent Online
THERE was definitely something in the air on 7 September 1963. Harold Macmillan was preparing to vacate No 10; the Beatles were yeah-yeah-yeahing towards their first No 1 with 'She Loves You'; and American Express was about to introduce Britain to plastic money.

A change in cricketing culture was also well underway. On that day, Lord's staged the first major one-day final, the culmination of a competition born of economic necessity. County attendances had fallen from 2.2 million in 1946 to 700,000, amid a period in which sales of cars and, significantly, televisions, had multiplied fivefold. That cricket was exempt from Entertainment Tax seemed more fitting than perverse.

The simultaneous rise from 220 English professionals to 300 had left the beleaguered clubs with more mouths to feed, no easy matter given that Test receipts were then pocketed by the individual venues. Then again, at pounds 1,000, the average salary for the season for a capped player such as Ken Suttle, the Sussex left-hander, was not generous.

'I got a fiver for that first final,' Suttle recollects. 'Mind you, we were given a rise when we made the final the following year - to pounds 7.50. Not that you did it for the money. Walking out in front of a packed Lord's house - absolutely marvellous. We had 15,000 at Hove for the semi-final, too. Just the tonic the game needed.'

The MCC advisory committee and the Gillette Safety Razor Company figured highest in the credits. The former first convened in 1956 to examine the decline in gates and general tempo of the game, ultimately proposing a knockout competition with the aim of boosting county finances. Despite fears that this would prove uneconomical should games spill over into a second or third day, potential sponsors were approached.

Gillette agreed to underwrite the snappily titled First-Class Counties Knockout Competition for the Gillette Cup. Revenues from each 65-over match (a rash of twilight finishes prompted a trim to 60 in 1964) were pooled and then redistributed according to how many games each county played.

Keen to show its interest in the players' welfare, Gillette introduced the Man of the Match award, then unknown outside rugby league's Lance Todd Trophy. Nominations for the pounds 50 cheque and gold medal were made by Test players. There was scant support, mind, for the choice of Norman Gifford in the final, a quixotic precedent that reached its nadir in 1986, when Lancashire's John Abrahams scored a duck and still won Peter May's vote. True, Gifford took 4 for 33 to restrict Sussex to 168, but Worcestershire lost by 14 runs.

'I wouldn't have picked me,' said Gifford, who will be at HQ on Saturday as the Sussex coach. 'Jim Parks batted well for his 57 and probably deserved it because that effectively won a low-scoring match. It was actually my first Gillette tie. Spinners were seen as a bit of a risk then, but the pitch was damp and looked as if it would turn a bit. As it transpired, nearly half the wickets fell to spin.

'Ted Dexter had nine fielders on the boundary by the end but, unlike him, we didn't have a plan. Don Kenyon posted two slips and a gully as per normal. With batsmen like Tom Graveney we fancied our chances but we couldn't get the ball through the ring and committed suicide.'

An animated gallery amplified the sense of occasion, Dexter's dismissal being greeted by a hoot from a hunting horn. The Observer correspondent was smitten: 'Runs, wickets, time: 128 for six . . . 132 for seven: 37 to get . . . three wickets and nine overs left] If the promoters had stage-managed the affair they could not have kept the crowd in a more savage state of suspense.'

At less than three runs an over, this was hardly 'brighter cricket', a tag much in vogue then. All the same, the drama was seductive. 'Perhaps it was not, strictly speaking, first-class cricket,' continued the literate eyewitness, 'but as entertainment it is with us for the foreseeable future. Let us be grateful for it.'

There may have been casualties since then, innocence and taste above all, but who are we to quibble with John Arlott?

Roll of honour

The 30 Gillette / NatWest victories have been shared among 14 counties:

5 Lancashire (1970, '71, '72, '75, '90)

4 Middlesex (1977, '80, '84 and '88)

Sussex (1963, '64, '78, '86)

3 Warwickshire (1966, '68, '89)

2 Kent (1967, '74)

Northamptonshire (1976, '92)

Somerset (1979, '83)

Yorkshire (1965, '69)

1 Derbyshire (1981)

Essex (1985)

Gloucestershire (1973)

Hampshire (1991)

Nottinghamshire (1987)

Surrey (1982)

Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Worcestershire and Durham (a first-class county only since last year) have never won the competition.

1963 FINAL SCOREBOARD

SUSSEX

R J Langridge b Gifford. . . . . . . . . . 34 A S M Oakman c Slade b Gifford. . . . . . .19 K G Suttle b Gifford. . . . . . . . . . . . 9 * E R Dexter c Broadbent b Horton . . . . . 3 J H Parks b Slade. . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 L J Lenham c Booth b Gifford. . . . . . . . 7 G C Cooper lbw b Slade. . . . . . . . . . . 0 N I Thomson lbw b Flavell. . . . . . . . . .1 A Buss c Booth b Carter. . . . . . . . . . .3 J A Snow b Flavell. . . . . . . . . . . . .10 D L Bates not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Extras (b9 lb10 nb3). . . . . . . . . . . .22 Total (60.2 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . 168

Fall: 1-62 2-67 3-76 4-98 5-118 6-123 7-134 8-142 9-157.

Bowling: Flavell 14.2-3-31-2; Carter 12-1-39-1; Slade 11-2-23-2; Gifford 15-4-33-4; Horton 8-1- 20-1.

WORCESTERSHIRE

* D Kenyon lbw b Buss. . . . . . . . . . . .1 M J Horton c and b Buss. . . . . . . . . . 26 R G A Headley c Snow b Bates. . . . . . . .25 T W Graveney c Dexter b Oakman. . . . . . .29 D W Richardson c Parks b Thomson. . . . . . 3 R G Broadbent c Bates b Snow. . . . . . . .13 R Booth not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 D N F Slade b Buss. . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 N Gifford b Snow. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 J A Flavell b Snow. . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 R G Carter run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Extras (b8 lb9 nb2). . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Total (63.2 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . 154

Fall: 1-7 2-38 3-80 4-91 5-103 6-128 7-132 8-133 9-133.

Bowling: Thomson 13.2-4-35-1; Buss 15-2-39- 3; Oakman 13-4-17-1; Suttle 5-2-11-0; Bates 9-2-20-1; Snow 8-0-13-3.

Sussex won by 14 runs.

Man of the match: N Gifford.

Umpires: F C Gardner and F S Lee.

Sussex won toss

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