Lethal Lewis sends the finale west

The seamer England ignored strikes three early hammer blows to set up victory but stifle the occasion

At 11.12am yesterday, some 27 minutes after the start of play, Gloucestershire retained the C & G Trophy, winning it for the fourth time in six years. The proceedings did not technically end and the trophy was not formally presented until seven hours later.

At 11.12am yesterday, some 27 minutes after the start of play, Gloucestershire retained the C & G Trophy, winning it for the fourth time in six years. The proceedings did not technically end and the trophy was not formally presented until seven hours later.

Indeed, the most handsome cricket of the day was played immediately after that by Vikram Solanki, who scored a century that was beautifully timed in every sense. But when Worcestershire lost three wickets by the seventh over with eight runs on the board that was effectively that. It meant that the Glorious Glosters remained one-day kings and that this tournament has now gone 11 years without a pulsating final contest. These things cannot be manufactured, but the feeling grows that the occasion needs an occasion.

The result, an eight-wicket victory for the holders, became official after 43.5 overs of Gloucestershire's innings, which contained the second century of the day.

This was scored with growing assurance by Philip Weston. What was as assured as his innings was that after 13 seasons in the professional game this was his greatest moment. For the journeyman pro there can be nothing finer, not even ham and eggs in Carolina, than scoring a hundred at Lord's in a final.

It was a horrible defeat for Worcestershire. Neither the margin of victory nor the overs to spare were as great as last year, when they were humbled by the same opponents, but it was all equally predictable. Worcestershire's innings began and finished in catastrophe. From 8 for 3 at the start, they then lost 7 for 34 at the end.

Fortunately, sandwiched between these forlorn bookends was something uplifting and substantial: a robust partnership of 194 from 231 balls between Solanki and David Leatherdale. It is difficult to overestimate their value. The early moisture in the pitch was sufficient to make old-fashioned straight English seamers think they can make the ball talk.

Jon Lewis, supported admirably by James Averis, went better than that. He was relentlessly accurate, probing both ways off an upright seam. In his hands the ball was not only talking, but singing, dancing and, you could swear in the quiet moments, whistling Dixie. It was extremely high-class bowling. Lewis has long been highly regarded by the sages around the county circuit and has been rewarded (belatedly, say some) by being put on reserve for England's winter tour. Averis was no less miserly.

Stephen Moore nicked a good ball that moved fractionally away, Graeme Hick survived a powerful shout for leg-before to his first ball that seamed in. But it mattered not, because three balls later Hick edged behind and Smith then pushed one low to gully. Lewis had 3 for 4 in 11 balls.

Circumspection was the only worthwhile weapon at the disposal of the fourth-wicket pair. Anything other than the utmost care would have deepened the wound. The main question was whether Solanki could be trusted. He could, and how.

Beaten a time or two (and why not) and ready to acknowledge the bowler for doing so, he made sure he got well forward and tried nothing too elaborate. Progress was slow, naturally, but Solanki and Leatherdale, a model of forbearance, gradually became prepared to accelerate.

Solanki was admirable, and when he decided it was safe to do so, he played some corking strokes, frequently through the off-side, but was equally prepared to employ his wrists to manufacture something easy on the eye through leg.

Still, he departed when the job was not quite done, charging Martyn Ball's hapless off- spin and missing. That sparked the late collapse. Had Solanki remained, it is possible another 20 runs might have been gathered. As it is, the rest came in and had no option but to throw the bat. They threw it one ball and were dismissed the next.

In this crazy whirl, Averis took four wickets in six balls, including the first hat-trick in a Lord's final since Ken Higgs for Leicestershire in the Benson & Hedges Cup 30 years ago. Thus he finished with superior figures to Lewis, and if he was not to be begrudged that nor did it make him the architect of the destruction.

Whether a score of 236 was enough to make Gloucestershire sweat to retain their title did not occupy minds for long. Weston and Craig Spearman set off at breakneck pace. They had luck as well as judgement. Both played false shots, Leatherdale, moving from hero to zero, putting down a looping dolly when Spearman was 53.

But Weston, carving away in upright fashion, was there at the end having faced 129 balls and struck 12 fours and a six. It was not as comely as Solanki's 115 from 136 balls, and nor was it made in adversity. Still, Weston was on the winning side.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory