Rob Key previews the Royal London One-Day Cup final between Kent and Hampshire
"It will be a good pitch, both sides have a very good top three and it'll be interesting to see what happens. Arguably, the side that wins the first 10 could win the match."
Last Updated: 30/06/18 10:23am
With Lord’s set to host the Royal London One-Day Cup final on Saturday, Rob Key previews what should be an intriguing contest between his former side Kent and Hampshire…
It is a fascinating match up and both sides have a similar make-up. Hampshire have got three standout batsmen in James Vince, Sam Northeast and Rilee Rossouw and they'll be looking to outscore Kent's top three: Daniel Bell-Drummond, Heino Kuhn and Joe Denly.
Both sides have also got a top class overseas bowler, Dale Steyn for Hampshire and Matt Henry at Kent so it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top in those battles.
The game is all about confidence and Henry must have a lot of that with the year that he's had so far. He's got good pace but he's got understanding and control as well. It's one thing having a bit of pace, it's another being able to do what you want with the ball - he has both.
He's shared the new ball with Harry Podmore, who has been one of the unsung heroes for Kent this summer. He got them off to a flier with the ball against Notts in the quarter-final and there is nowhere harder to bowl in world cricket than Trent Bridge!
Bowling is the hardest skill-set to get right in white-ball cricket and Kent's attack have done an excellent job. Henry and Podmore have taken wickets up top and that has made the job for Darren Stevens and Calum Haggett in the middle overs a fair bit easier.
The first 10 overs are absolutely vital in one-day cricket. In T20 it's half a game but often you can catch up after a slow start, someone can come in and have a day out from 10 to 20.
But in 50-over cricket, that first 10 overs is crucial. If you get wickets early on, the pressure is on the opposition and you can put the squeeze on in the middle overs.
I think the final will be decided in that early period. It will be a good pitch, both sides have a very good top three and it'll be interesting to see what happens. Arguably, the side that wins the first 10 could win the match.
It is 10 years since Kent were last in a Lord's final and I was captain that day. The first thing I remember was that Paul Allott, a friend of mine, was doing the toss.
I won the toss, did the wrong thing and had a bat when I should have had a bowl, but the first question he asked me after that was "do you think you'll be able to lay the ghost to rest of Kent's record in finals?" We'd lost seven or eight in a row.
I didn't know that and it the last thing I wanted to hear. I think I was given out when I didn't hit it by a Kent umpire and it was just a day where things went wrong for us really. It was a great occasion though and something I'm pleased to have been part of.
We'd beaten Durham in the semi-final, with Shaun Pollock, Steve Harmison and a whole list of stars in their side, but credit to Essex, they were well prepared for us that day in the final.
Joe Denly was in our side that day and in the last three or four years, he has really cemented himself as one of the best batsmen in the domestic game. He'd been hit and miss up until then.
He came into our side as a youngster, showed a hell of a lot of potential and got picked for England. He probably didn't really know his game at that point and it didn't quite work out.
Whereas now, I think he is a player who has a complete understanding of the way that he plays and he expects a lot of himself. He's just someone that has just found his way and since he came back to Kent from Middlesex he's been an outstanding player in all formats.
I'd say you've got the two best English batsmen outside of that England one-day squad, in Vince and Denly, playing in the final. Vince has scored two fifties and two hundreds in the competition this season and it shows how good the England one-day side is that two players that good can't get a look in at the moment.
Northeast coming up against his old county after leaving Kent for Hampshire over the winter is an interesting sub-plot.
He'll want to score runs but more because it is a big occasion, on the TV, and he's the forgotten man as far as England are concerned.
He's been so unlucky. He got a hundred at Hampshire then had a horrendous finger injury so as much as he'll want to do well against Kent, he'll want a standout knock to show everyone how good a player he is and that he should have had a chance for England over the years.
It's not often that you get this opportunity. It's funny, if you step up in games like this then players take note and I think that will drive Northeast on, along with winning the game.
Who will win? I tipped Kent as one of the favourites to win it at the start of the competition, they obviously thumped Notts in the quarter-final and announced themselves as a serious one-day side.
Kent are a team with a lot of confidence, they're playing well in both formats - T20 is yet to start - and they've got some match-winners in there. Those are the people that get you through.
They lost the first two games but then they've come back and actually the closest win they've had was against Hampshire - by one run. So if that is anything to go by then it should be a great game!
Watch the Royal London One-Day Cup final between Kent and Hampshire from 10.30am, Saturday on Sky Sports Cricket.
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