Match Report: Lancashire vs. Kent Spitfires

Saturday 17th September 2022

Men’s First Team

Metro Bank One Day Cup

Match Report: Lancashire vs. Kent Spitfires

Kent Spitfires faced Lancashire in the 2022 Royal London Cup Final at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

Kent ended a run of eight consecutive defeats in one-day finals as they overcame favourites Lancashire to win the Royal London Cup decider at Trent Bridge.

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Always the bridesmaids since lifting the Benson and Hedges Cup in 1978, Kent defended a total of 306 for six 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 move from Nottinghamshire to Kent for next season, scored a brilliant 97, took two for 29 and held one of a number of excellent catches by his team.

Kent’s strike bowlers Grant Stewart and Nathan Gilchrist then 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 72 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 an ovation from the crowd.

Tom Bailey (two for 46) was Lancashire’s best bowler, although Liam Hurt (two for 64) and Danny Lamb (one for 57) took key wickets.

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, after which Evison and Robinson proceeded tentatively at times, posting a modest 41 runs in the opening powerplay.

Robinson accelerated with five boundaries in a couple of overs off Will Williams, but was caught behind off an inside edge on to thigh pad as 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 for two after 30 overs, Kent looked to have a platform for a substantial total.

Evison missed out on his hundred when he was bowled through the gate when Lamb deceived him with a slower ball, although regardless of that he had made an elegant statement against his soon-to-be former employers, who had not been able to give him the regular first-team cricket he desired.

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, although 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 Grant Stewart and Nathan Gilchrist. They suffered a setback when Stewart caught Wells in his follow-through but at 63 for one from 10, Lancashire had their noses in front.

The second 10 began with a life for Jennings, a difficult caught and bowled chance for Stevens above his head, and then a wicket as Josh Bohannon, frustrated at managing only five runs off his first 20 balls, was caught at fine leg off the medium pace of Harry Podmore.

At 125 for two in the 22nd over, Lancashire looked just about favourites, but that began to change after the off-spinner Hamidullah Qadri, Kent’s leading wicket-taker in the competition, 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 turned the contest in Kent’s favour.

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, who had just conceded 12 runs in an over to Danny Lamb, pulled off the best of the three at deep backward square to take revenge.

Stewart then pinned Rob Jones in front, Gilchrist uprooted Bailey’s stumps and Evison had the final word on a memorable day for him by bowling Hurt to wrap up the win.

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Kent’s Joey Evison said: “It is always nice to play at Trent Bridge, I had such a good time here, and to play in a Final at Trent Bridge is really special. It has been such a good day.”

Asked if he felt he had proved a point to Nottinghamshire, after deciding to leave Trent Bridge for the chance to play more regular first-team cricket, he said: “That’s exactly right. The reason I’m leaving Nottinghamshire is because of opportunities. To take nothing away from Notts, I had such a good time there, but it is nice to show the Kent fans what I’m made of today.

“It was disappointing not to get the hundred. I think what cost my wicket was lack of concentration really after there was a review the ball before I got out, although it was a pretty good ball. Slower balls on that wicket are quite tough.

“But if you had suggested to me at the start of the day that I was going to get 97, take two wickets and a catch, I would have bitten your hand off. I couldn’t ask for more.

“We thought 306 was a good score on that wicket, a little bit over par.

“We were pleased with the way we took our catches. They dropped a few but we held ours and that’s something we work really hard on.

“It has been an honour to play with Darren Stevens in the last couple of weeks. To be playing at 46, he has been a massive Kent legend.”