Gloucestershire dream undone by young Driver

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The Independent Online

Gloucestershire's glorious run in 50-over cricket, stretching back over the last two seasons, finally turned down a dead end yesterday. The dream of winning four consecutive Lord's finals was shattered by the Worcestershire rookie batsman, Ryan Driver.

Gloucestershire's glorious run in 50-over cricket, stretching back over the last two seasons, finally turned down a dead end yesterday. The dream of winning four consecutive Lord's finals was shattered by the Worcestershire rookie batsman, Ryan Driver.

Driver, who was 21 in April, is nicknamed Bambi, but, as far as NatWest Trophy holders Gloucestershire and the Worcestershire faithful are concerned, it should be Thumper.

And, considering that his only other appearance in this competition was for his native Cornwall a while back, his maiden unbeaten half-century (61) marked him out as someone with nerve and ability.

He was completely unfazed by the wily Ian Harvey, whose bowling at the death has been the graveyard of many a batsman's hopes in Gloucestershire's 13 previous one-day victories out of 14 matches.

When they won the Benson & Hedges Cup 12 days ago it was the West Country side's third final triumph on the trot and they had harboured very real hopes of completing the set in this competition. Those hopes did not diminish after they won the toss and elected to bat.

There was a maiden NatWest fifty for Rob Cunliffe, who shared in what ordinarily would have been a match-winning stand of 109 with Jack Russell.

And even when Cunliffe fell, underclubbing to the long-on boundary, a big total still looked on. But there was a rash of wickets, indeed a rash of rashness: Matt Windows needed two attempts to run himself out, the first time he was thwarted by the third umpire but the second time the batsman had his wish granted.

Alleyne became the third to fall in nine balls and, although Russell went on to make a typically dogged 84, the tail could not produce enough of a target.

The 6ft 3in Driver emerged fourth wicket down and shared first in a stand of 89 with David Leatherdale, the latter departing after reaching his maiden NatWest fifty. That sparked a mini-collapse, three wickets falling in 13 balls, but Driver and Illingworth were equal to the task.

They nudged and niggled at first, then opened up a bit and eventually garnered the 54th and winning run of their partnership with seven balls to spare. Driver had collected two sixes and a couple of fours in his 93-ball stay. He then collected the Man of the Match award, the first of many on this showing.

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