Kent clinch Twenty20 crown
Kent claimed the Twenty20 Cup in dramatic fashion as they edged out Gloucestershire at Edgbaston.
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 05/08/07 1:46pm
Kent Spitfires claimed the Twenty20 Cup in dramatic fashion as they edged out Gloucestershire Gladiators by four wickets in a thrilling, see-saw final at Edgbaston.
Darren Stevens saw his side home as he scythed two boundaries from the final over to ensure Kent reached their target of 147, but it was Ryan McLaren who proved the hero with the ball earlier in the day as he took a memorable hat-trick.
The South African Kolpak signing was part of the Edgbaston ground-staff just two years ago, but he was the star of the show out in the middle this time around as he dismissed Hamish Marshall, Steve Adshead and Ian Fisher.
McLaren was named as man-of-the-match for his heroics, but it was a fine team effort from the Spitfires who rallied well having at one stage looked like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
With Kent skipper Rob Key having won the toss and inserted the opposition, Gloucestershire's innings got off to a flying start as Marshall whipped Sri Lankan pace merchant Lasith Malinga off his legs for four from the very first ball of the innings.
However, Kent got the early breakthrough they craved as Gloucestershire's semi-final hero Craig Spearman was caught at slip by Martin van Jaarsveld off the bowling of Yasir Arafat for two.
Indeed, it was left to Marshall to hold the innings together as wickets fell with regularity at the other end.
Kadeer Ali went for six as Arafat picked up his second wicket and Chris Taylor was soon following him back to the dugout as he perished for just two, trapped leg before by Simon Cook.
Alex Gidman also failed to reach double figures as he was run out by a smart piece of fielding from van Jaarsveld.
Martin Hardinges and Marshall steadied the ship as they added 49 for the fifth wicket, but the stand was broken as McLaren chipped in with his magical cameo.
Marshall was first to go for 65 off 49 balls as he chopped a straight one on, Adshead suffered a similar fate as his off stump was clattered back and the hat-trick was completed as Fisher was trapped leg before by a full, straight delivery.
With the Gladiators innings seemingly in tatters, they did well to regroup and finish with something of a flourish.
Hardinges and Jon Lewis put on 26 from 16 balls with the England seamer even dispatching Malinga for three fours in one over.
Some last-gasp hitting from Hardinges got the score up to 146-8, a good deal more respectable than it has threatened to be at one stage.
Kent's reply got off to a brisk start with openers Joe Denly and Robert Key finding the boundary rope seemingly at will.
Controversial Key dismissal
The total had raced along to 32-0 before Key was dismissed in highly controversial circumstances - the Kent skipper chipped one towards Marshall at mid-wicket and the New Zealander dived forward to meet the ball and emerged claiming the catch.
Umpire Neil Mallender - standing at square leg - gave the catch and Key trudged off, but, having seen the replay on his way off that appeared inconclusive at best, he made to head back out to the middle furious that the decision had not been referred to the third umpire.
The flashpoint did not hinder Kent's progress as experienced left-hander Matthew Walker picked up where Key left off with a succession of boundaries that saw his side's 50 come up off 5.1 overs.
The Gladiators needed a breakthrough and Marshall was again the man to oblige as he produced a stunning catch from a full-blooded Denly pull that left nobody in any doubt as to its validity.
Still Kent held the upper hand as they kept the run-rate at a manageable level, but when van Jaarsveld departed for nine having been bowled by Hardinges and Walker not long after for a well-made 45 having holed out to Fisher on the boundary rope off the bowling of Lewis, they were beginning to falter.
As the game reached a frantic climax, Lewis did for McLaren with a clever slower ball while Geraint Jones was run out in comical style as he attempted a cheeky run off Ben Edmonson.
At the start of the final over Kent still had 13 runs to find, but Stevens stepped up to the plate in superb style, smearing a four off the first ball and when he did similar off the fourth it proved enough as Carl Greenidge was called for a no-ball that got Kent over the line.