The much-hyped south coast derby turned into a one-horse race, with Hampshire cruising to a crushing victory over neighbours Sussex with more than nine overs to spare here yesterday. The ease with which Hampshire secured the Friends Provident Trophy owed much to the fact that they had made life so hard for Sussex. They had bowled and fielded superbly, with, inevitably, the veteran big match player Dominic Cork contributing mightily with the ball.
Dimitri Mascarenhas, the Hampshire captain, also bowled well, and kept the pressure on with his field placings and bowling changes.
When it was their turn to bowl Sussex, initially, fell woefully short of the standard set by their opponents and allowed openers Jimmy Adams and Michael Lumb far too much freedom. By the time they were parted in the 20th over Adams and Lumb were seven runs shy of what would have been their fourth century stand in this season's competition, and Hampshire were well on their way.
Adams had just reached his fourth consecutive Trophy 50 when he became the first of Luke Wright's three victims, falling lbw. Lumb fell shortly after, having passed 400 runs in this season's competition.
But the Hampshire hounds were hot on the victory trail and Michael Carberry had smacked the Sussex attack around in wicked fashion by the time he was caught and bowled by Yasir Arafat.
Sean Ervine, who had injured a knee after crashing into an advertising board when fielding, showed some patience before getting off the mark, waiting until the fourth ball of his innings, when he hooked Wright for six. He was going for another big hit 16 balls later when he holed out in the deep to the same bowler.
It was left to Nic Pothas, who aggravated a groin strain during his innings of 35, and Chris Benham to wrap it all up with an unbroken stand of 67.
If Hampshire's was a team effort, the batsmen building on the bowlers' great showing, one man still stood out. From first to last Cork, who will be 38 in a fortnight, has popped up in a big match at Lord's and turned a game.
In 1993, in his first domestic cup final, Derbyshire's then rookie all-rounder produced an unbeaten 92 to help bring down Lancashire, the one-day kings at the time.
His Test debut in 1995 saw him pick up seven wickets in the West Indies second innings, the best return by an Englishman on his Test debut. Three years later when Derbyshire were routed in this competition losing to Lancashire by nine wickets, it was Cork who took the only Red Rose wicket to fall. He was man of the match on his Test return at Lord's against the West Indies in 2000.
Then three years ago Cork was the top scorer for Lancashire when they lost in this competition to Sussex.
Yesterday he was at it again. He had arrived at the final having taken 15 wickets and added four more to that tally as he put the skids under Sussex. The first three effectively tore the heart out of the Sussex batting, and but for Michael Yardy's gutsy, unbeaten innings of 92, this match would have been over as a contest far earlier.
Cork had opened the bowling from the Nursery End, but the Hampshire fans had to wait until his fourth over before he turned on his magic.
Ed Joyce, the competition's most prolific batsman this season had added 15 to his tally of 531 before playing on trying to leave a ball. That sparked a devastating spell of three for six in 11 balls by Cork. Two balls after Joyce's departure Cork produced a beauty which found the edge of England wicketkeeper Matt Prior's bat and he was taken by wicketkeeper Pothas, then in his sixth over Cork accounted for the other opener Chris Nash, trapping him lbw.
A disastrous run-out robbed Sussex of Murray Goodwin – Chris Tremlett's throw from mid-off hitting the base of the stumps at the non striker's end – and they were sinking. But captain Yardy tackled the crisis, bit by bit repairing the steerage, trimming the sails, and steadying the ship.
Sadly for the left-hander, very few of his crew could stay with him. All-rounder Wright at least managed to give Yardy (left) the strike as often as possible to keep the scoreboard ticking over; Dwayne Smith adopted a less deferential approach, going for big hits. He did clear the boundary rope over mid-wicket for Sussex's solitary six, but failed to hit another boundary in his 20-ball innings.
It needed Rory Hamilton-Brown, long on name but short on experience, to show his elders and betters how to do it. The 21-year-old Hamilton-Brown, a former England Under-19 captain, scored a breezy 32 helping Yardy to add 60 precious runs for the seventh wicket. Yet even these two could not capitalise on the batting powerplay, from which they could squeeze only 21 runs, a total which contained one boundary, and thereafter Sussex just ran out of steam, manpower and overs.