Kent end one-day finals hoodoo by winning Royal London Cup
Kent ended a run of eight consecutive defeats in one-day finals as they overcame favourites Lancashire to win the Royal London One-Day Cup at Trent Bridge.
Kent defended a total of 306-6 by bowling out Lancashire for 285 to win by 21 runs.
Joey Evison, the 20-year-old all-rounder playing on what is still his home ground ahead of his permanent move from Nottinghamshire to Kent for next season, scored a brilliant 97, took two for 34 and held one of a number of excellent catches by his team.
Kent’s strike bowlers Grant Stewart and Nathan Gilchrist took three wickets each as Lancashire’s hopes of winning a 12th one-day final were ended, despite skipper Keaton Jennings and veteran all-rounder Steven Croft each scoring 72.
Joe Denly had supplemented Evison’s efforts with a superb 78 from 69 balls. Ollie Robinson made 43, Alex Blake 38 and Darren Stevens, in perhaps in his last professional match at the age of 46, finished unbeaten on 33 after being greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Having opted to bat first, Kent lost Ben Compton, another former Nottinghamshire player, to the fourth ball of the innings, when he was tamely caught at gully off a wide ball from Bailey.
Robinson accelerated with five boundaries in a couple of overs off Will Williams, but was caught behind off an inside edge as Liam Hurt managed to nip one back.
Evison – on loan to Kent for this competition – played beautifully, his judgement impressively sharp, so much so that when Hurt and his team-mates celebrated what they believed was his dismissal leg before for 48 in the 21st over, he triggered a successful review.
His half-century came from 72 balls and as he and Denly combined sublimely to move the score to 145-2 after 30 overs.
Evison missed out on his hundred when he was bowled through the gate when Lamb deceived him with a slower ball.
Denly departed soon afterwards, bowled taking a swing at Hurt and, despite the vocal encouragement for Stevens, cheered to the wicket from all corners of the ground, only 70 runs accrued from the last 10 overs.
It might have been fewer still had Lancashire not spilled three simple catches, which took some gloss off the brilliant relay catch executed by Rob Jones and Jennings on the deep midwicket boundary to remove Blake.
Lancashire flew out of the blocks as they began the chase, Jennings and Luke Wells racing to 36 in the first four overs against the pace of Stewart and Gilchrist. They suffered a setback when Stewart caught Wells in his follow-through but at 63-1 from 10, Lancashire had their noses in front.
Josh Bohannon, frustrated at managing only five runs off his first 20 balls, was then caught at fine leg off the medium pace of Harry Podmore.
At 125-2 in the 22nd over, Lancashire looked just about favourites, but that began to change after the off-spinner Hamidullah Qadri entered the attack to dismiss Jennings, who miscued horribly to extra cover.
It was an unexpected end for the Lancashire skipper, although perhaps his concentration had been broken while play was held up moments earlier after a bizarre incident that saw Kent’s Harry Finch give away five penalty runs when – presumably unaware he was breaking any rule – he used a glove discarded by wicketkeeper Robinson to field a ball that was still in play.
Lancashire suffered another setback when Evison bowled Dane Vilas off a bottom edge. That was followed by a blow for Kent as Stevens left the field, his final seemingly over because of injury.
Croft – not quite of Stevens’s vintage but at 37 the senior member of the Lancashire side – went to 50 off 71 balls before a flurry of boundaries took him to 70 off 79, which tilted the odds back in the Old Trafford side’s favour with 101 needed from 13 overs.
But three stunning catches helped Kent to victory.
Blake held one at midwicket to end Croft’s charge, the irrepressible Evison another in a similar area as George Lavelle top-edged, before Gilchrist pulled off the best of the three at deep backward square to snare Danny Lamb.
Stewart then pinned Rob Jones in front, Gilchrist uprooted Tom Bailey’s stumps and Evison had the final word on a memorable day for him by bowling Hurt to wrap up the win.