With the usual motley crew, I was at Lord’s yesterday to see Warwickshire, which I’ve supported for over 20 years, play Somerset in the CB40 Final at Lord’s.
My Somerset-supporting mates pointed out that there was no Warwickshire flag hoisted on the Pavilion. I quipped that this was because Warwickshire played in Lord’s finals so often that the flag was worn out.
Earlier this week I had seen an article by Vic Marks in which he thought this would be the lowest ever attendance at a Lord’s One Day final. He was right. So few tickets had been sold that the Tavern Stand, where my mates and I normally park ourselves, was closed. It was a woeful attendance, with the ground barely half full.
The idea of starting at 3pm and finishing under floodlights at 9pm or so is fine if you live in or close to London but if you have to travel from Birmingham or Taunton it is a very long (and expensive) day. I hope that Lord’s sees sense and reverts to the morning start.
I have never been fond of 40-over cricket but this was a super match. Daringly, the Warwickshire captain Ian Bell asked Somerset to bat first. Historically, the side batting second (Warwickshire in this instance) has always won the match. Mid-September morning dampness can make a cricket ball do all sorts of cruel things to batsmen. But batting second under floodlights and with a bit of evening moisture was courageous indeed.
Somerset should probably have scored 250. Warwickshire’s outstanding fielding kept them to 199.
Bell scored a magnificent 107, out with only one run needed to win. Until he played some big shots towards the end of the match, it was far from certain that Warwickshire would win.
It was tough on Somerset, who are also runners up in the County Championship and the FP 20/20 – second place in three competitions, which makes them, by general consent, the best team in the country. But they have nothing to show for it. Somerset were runners up in two competitions in 1978, which preceded the golden era of Botham, Richards and Garner in one of county cricket’s greatest teams. This current Somerset squad will surely come good.
In the meantime, I will enjoy Warwickshire’s first gong since 2002. Come on you Bears!