Law on Essex's side but Warwickshire start favourites

CRICKET: Delayed NatWest final goes on at Lord's tomorrow against backdrop of uncertainty over competition's future

This year's NatWest Trophy, the elder statesman of the world's one-day competitions, is one of the emotive subjects due to be voted on by the counties in 10 days' time. But while some see it is a dinosaur ready to be modernised, others view it as a tradition set in stone. Indeed, the only people likely to be agreed on its current significance are tomorrow's finalists, Warwickshire and Essex, who are both sure to regard it as a last-ditch chance to make something of their season.

For Essex, the need to salvage something is even more acute than their opponents. Unlike Warwickshire, who lead the AXA Sunday League, they are in grave danger of taking nothing from a season which, promising great riches by the half-way stage - when they headed both Championship and Sunday League - now threatens to be remembered for little more than the retirement of Graham Gooch.

Apart from their hairline win over Glamorgan in the semi-finals, they have failed to win a game in any shape or form during August. It is a record that, despite yesterday's win against Lancashire in the Championship, does not bode well against a confident team who have twice thrashed them in the preceding week and whose one-day cricket is back to its functional best.

With the club captain, Tim Munton, as well as his deputy, Nick Knight, missing much of the season through injury, Warwickshire have, under the leadership of Neil Smith (a specialist one-day captain long before the Aussies dreamed up the wheeze), rekindled the spirit, if not quite the zany adventure, of the Dermot Reeve years. These days they stick to the basics, and do them well, a bits-and-pieces team bound together by the menacing presence of Allan Donald, probably the world's fastest bowler.

Donald, who tends to bowl the majority of his overs in the middle of the innings, when batsmen are looking to accelerate, is the obstacle Essex have to circumvent without losing too many casualties.

And yet where Donald really scores is when he does not even have the ball in his hand - often just the threat of him is usually enough to persuade teams to take irrational risks against the likes of Dougie Brown, Graham Welch and Gladstone Small.

Unlike their Essex counterparts Mark Ilott and Ashley Cowan, who tend to attack, the trio adopt an unwavering discipline towards their early spells. In order to avoid the trap so many fall into, Paul Prichard's team must take every precaution to not be four down by the time the South African comes on.

Mind you, with Stuart Law, Essex's shot-playing Australian, set to open the innings, Donald may be persuaded to take the new ball. Law, who missed last year's final through international commitments, has been so dominant in the Essex batting line-up that his early departure would be certain to affect morale.

Desperate to have some silverware to show for his two brilliant seasons with the club, Law's plan is to try to bat for at least 50 overs which, judging by some of the electric starts he has given Essex over the season, could mean that a double century may not entirely be comicbook fantasy.

Law's presence aside, Essex's confidence will have been boosted by the return from injury of both Prichard (hamstring) and Ronnie Irani (torn rib muscle). However, despite a repeated intravenous cocktail of vitamins and amino acids, courtesy of a specialist in Munich, Irani is unlikely to bowl, something that could compromise the final balance of the side.

Providing the pitch is a great deal less bowler friendly than last year's uneven surface (never guaranteed at Lord's at this time of year) a high- scoring game could be in prospect, though Warwickshire, their depth and versatility in all departments, are deserved favourites, particularly now that Knight, keen to put one over his old county, has been restored as opener.

And yet if anyone can confound the form book it is Essex, whose tendency to veer from calamity to brilliance is as ingrained as the worry lines on their supporters' faces. Providing memories of last year's debacle do not come back to haunt them at the crucial moments, the cup could be making its way back into the trophy cabinet at Chelmsford.

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness