Kent fans are in dreamland. A return to Lord’s in the Royal London One-Day Cup final ten years after their last visit (Essex) is something to be embraced by any county, but when you throw into the mix that it is 40 years since Kent won a one-day final at Lord’s (Derbyshire 1978) and have lost subsequent ones in ’83, ’84. ’86. ’92. ’95, ’97 and ’08 means any Kent fan under the age of 50 have an itch they long to scratch.
I began watching Kent in 1979 and so exactly missed the glory years. My first final I attended was the one in ’84 lost off the last ball in the dark to Middlesex…
I wasn’t at New Road for the semi-final, but I think it was even more agonising listening to the radio commentary and following the score tick over than being there. The classic game ebbed and flowed, towards the end I couldn’t even listen to the game, switched over to the World Cup and burbled in a corner.
The finale was stupendous, unheralded recent arrival Podmore smashing the ball for the decisive boundary after the departure of the incredible Kuhn with Kent on the cusp of a famous win.
Written off by the experts before their quarter-final at Trent Bridge where they annihilated fancied Nottinghamshire and having largely been ignored by Sky they battled their way through to a meeting with Hampshire.
Everyone will have their favourite moment, but Henry’s diving one handed catch will go down in Kentish folklore. At 48-4 Worcestershire recovered brilliantly to post a par score of 306-6 from 50. Kent fans feared they’d let them off the hook once Stevens had finished his overs. Carnage at the end saw Cox make a potentially game changing 122*.
The reply had nerves jangling, 8-2, 31-3, but Kuhn held the whole thing together (again), Rouse gave him admirable support and Blake came in as the finisher and biffed a heroic 61. Kent looked on course, but late wickets and a bit of a stutter put everyone through the emotional mangle.
The scenes on the Kent balcony at the end resonated through the Kentish faithful, the players cared, they really cared! They’d got Stevo to Lord’s and with only a year to spare before the final moves from its historical home up to Trent Bridge.
I’ll be there as will hordes of Kent fans seeking a happy ending at Lord’s. Hampshire won’t be easy, Kent contrived to win by one run at the Rose Bowl in the group stage when all looked lost. Henry the hero (again). The Nackington Road Grumblers will be relocating to the Edrich Stand Upper for the occasion which should keep me sane.
I’m now heading to Russia to watch the World Cup, England vs Panama in Nizhny Novgorod and then vs Belgium in Kaliningrad, so will miss the Middlesex floodlight Championship match but I’m due to fly back the night before Lord’s… what could possibly go wrong?!?