Glory recaptured by Stroud's favourite son

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The Independent Online
JACK RUSSELL shrugged off the fact that he lasted just one ball in his first Lord's final. "I took a gamble and lost," he explained of his run out. "It did not have a great effect on the outcome of the game." And Gloucestershire's former England wicketkeeper, who has two years still to run on his contract added: "I was just after one of these," and he held up his winner's medal.

That victory meant as much to Russell the Gloucestershire fan as it did to the proud player. He reflected on the moment he shared with the rest of the team when they held up the Benson & Hedges Super Cup in front of their singing, cheering fans at Lord's and said: "I was out there 22 years ago and I know what it means."

On that occasion a 13-year-old Russell had witnessed another comfortable Gloucestershire victory, over Kent in 1977 in the 55-over format of the Benson & Hedges Cup. In the intervening years as a player with his beloved county, Stroud's favourite son has been starved of that glory. Not any more though.

Mark Alleyne, Gloucestershire's captain made sure of that with what David Byas, his Yorkshire counterpart, described as , "a wonderful hundred, as fine as any you will see at Lord's. He played some great shots in good areas and he hit the ball so sweetly and easily."

The man himself was more concerned with carrying on the good work. "I think we are capable of winning more trophies," he announced afterwards. "Now we have this one out of the way we can focus on the other two one day competitions."

While he wants Gloucestershire to haul themselves out of trouble in the Championship and secure a place in the top nine by the end of the season to guarantee First Division cricket next year, they are already in the NatWest Trophy semi-finals with a home tie at Bristol - against Yorkshire, whom they have now beaten twice by big margins in the last couple of weeks.

The CGU National League victory in July leaves them nicely placed to challenge for the First Division title as well as bidding for another Lord's visit.

Like Russell, Alleyne wants glory for the fans. "I am pleased they came down in their coach loads to see us win. It was a special moment for me to lift the trophy up for them."

On a personal note, his hundred at Lord's will have gone a long way to making up for the disappointment and unhappiness of last winter, when his father, Euclid, was killed in a car crash in Barbados, cutting short Alleyne's participation in the England tour to Australia. He did not get another look-in when the World Cup squad was announced.

"Life is like that," mused Alleyne, who, as an 18-year-old bettered W G Grace, by becoming the youngest Gloucestershire player to score a hundred. He is also the youngest to score a double hundred for the county. "We all get our lows, so that is why it is nice to have something to celebrate." And as for his innings, he analysed it thus: "as a complete innings I thought it was good, but I was not satisfied at the beginning. It did get better though and was probably my best one-day innings."

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