Essex will meet Kent in the Lord's final of the Friends Provident Trophy thanks to a fierce attacking innings by Graham Napier and the tight leg-spin of Danish Kaneria. On a dry, hard pitch, chasing 285 was likely to prove difficult. "You can't get eight an over against Kaneria," said Yorkshire's captain, Darren Gough, after positively his last appearance in the 50-over cup competition on Saturday. After a bright start, Yorkshire lost nine wickets for 58 runs and fell well short.
Napier's 61 off 34 balls with six sixes was the talk of the county town, coming so soon after his record-breaking 152 not out in the Twenty20 Cup. The buzz after the game was about the Indian Premier League and Napier was in no mood to calm it down. "I'd love to do it," he said.
Gough was quick to puncture such optimism. Although he admires and likes Napier – he tried to sign him for Yorkshire last summer – he declared the IPL a league too far: "You can't take a player out of county cricket and put him in a league like that. The ICL? Maybe."
One-day cricket is top of the agenda at Essex, who are good at it and like what it does for the balance sheet. David East, the chief executive, says the take for a night-time Twenty20 match, like tonight's quarter-final against Northamptonshire, brings in as much as three seasons' home County Championship games.
Consequently, Essex are increasing capacity from a little over 5,000 to 8,000. Stuck in the Second Division, they favour a three-conference County Championship, with year-end play-offs. "Every county then has the opportunity of winning the title," says East.