my own goal; Steve Marsh

THE veteran Kent wicketkeeper hopes to help his county break a run of 17 years without a trophy when they face Lancashire in the Benson and Hedges Cup final at Lord's on Saturday. Here he recalls the match in which he made his maiden first-class century
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The Independent Online
THERE will always be something special about our County Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford in April 1988. It was our first four- day match; Graham Gooch scored 275, which was then his career best; Graham Cowdrey and I both got our first hundreds; and it set a record for the total number of runs, 1,570, made in a game in the history of the competition. The bare statistics tell but part of the story.

Kent, having won the toss, made 400 for seven declared in their first innings, pretty formidable in those early days of longer games. In reply, Essex were in a bit of trouble at 33 for two. This could have been a bit bigger still. When he had scored seven Gooch edged a straightforward chance to me. I was going through the motions of throwing it up in celebration when I realised it had gone into the gloves and out again just as quickly.

Nobody drops them deliberately but keepers are particularly exposed. That chance, standing back, was as easy as they get. I didn't have to move to right or left. These things can happen. Of course, if they happen regularly you don't get to stay in the team long. The best thing to do is to try to ensure such unfortunate incidents do not prey on your mind. I was joking about the drop the next day as were my team-mates at my expense. This eased the hurt as Essex put on more than 250 for their fifth wicket.

It was eased a little further when Kent batted for the second time. When I went to the wicket to join Graham Cowdrey we were in the mire. The score was 122 for six which meant we were still almost 100 runs behind. We stuck it out, grew in confidence and both of us compiled hundreds. In doing so we put on 222 for the seventh wicket which was barely 20 runs off the county record.

We forced Essex to bat again and although they won by eight wickets there seemed, on balance, cause to celebrate. The team had to travel to Hove after it was all over for a Benson and Hedges match the following day. Graham and I went out for a bottle for a champagne or two to mark our achievements.

This worked out pretty well as we always room together on away trips. It was appropriate that we'd made our hundreds at the same time. The night passed happily by and we got back to the hotel without mishap. In the small hours I woke up with a dry throat, desperately needing a drink (champagne does this to you) and went to the bathroom for some water. I filled the glass, downed the water and returned to bed.

At around six in the morning "Cow", always an early riser and probably also thirsty himself by now, went to the bathroom and came back and nudged me awake. Had I seen his contact lenses? He had not seen fit the previous night to put them in their case containing the special solution. To save messing about he had put them in the glass in the bathroom. They were no longer there, he soon realised, because I had swallowed them.

On hearing this bad news my friend had to drive back to Canterbury to pick up his spare lenses and then return to Hove for the game. We won, incidentally, by seven wickets. As for the lenses, they never did turn up again. We have been fairly careful about champagne and lenses since. And more careful still about Gooch when he is batting early on, just in case he should be in the mood for a double hundred.

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