Champions League didn't distract us - Joyce
Ed Joyce paid testament to Middlesex's fearlessness after leading them to their first title in 15 long years, beating Kent in the final of the 2008 Twenty20 Cup.
Middlesex posted 187 for 6, the highest total for a final in the Cup's history, thanks to a sublime 75 from Owais Shah. Kent, however, edged closer to the target before falling three runs short in a nailbiting final over bowled by Tyron Henderson. The allure of the Champions League and Allen Stanford's offering were always liable to affect the players' focus, but Joyce insisted they were not swayed by the financial incentives on offer.
"We have been talking about the Champions League all season but in this game said we were going to play fearless cricket and, if we thought about bowling a certain ball or playing a certain shot, we were going to go out and do it," Joyce said. "We were going to do it with no regrets and not think about the potential riches that lie ahead. That showed in the way we played in both the games.
"Owais Shah and Tyron Henderson played two fantastic knocks and everyone else chipped in around them and everyone bowled and fielded very well. We talked about the Champions League but I don't think it distracted us too much."
The win ended a barren period for Middlesex of 15 years without a title. Not since Mike Gatting's side won the Championship in 1993 had they any silverware to enjoy, and that particular victory ended a prolific period for the club. From 1976 to 1993, Middlesex were the team to beat. Yesterday's win was all the more remarkable for the haplessness with which Middlesex have performed in the six years of Twenty20 Cup cricket, too.
"It is fantastic to lead the county to their first title for 15 years. We've missed Ed Smith quite a bit at the top and his captaincy as well while injured," Joyce said. "Ed, myself and (coach) Toby Radford came up with a template for the way we were going to play but it is great to be the person leading the county to the title."
Joyce's opposite number, Robert Key - whose slick 52 gave Kent such belief that they would retain their title - remained proud of his side's efforts. As a bonus, Kent can now join Middlesex in the Champions League with a chance to win an unprecedented US$2.5 million, subject to the eligibility of their Indian Cricket League players.
"If anything, I thought we coped pretty well," Key said. "I thought we fielded brilliantly in the semi-final and that was almost as big a game as the final because winning that gave you entry into other competitions and the money that everyone's going on about.
"That was the time when all that was at stake and I thought it was a credit to both sides on how they performed and how they behaved out there.
"Twenty20 might in the long run harm other forms of the game but I would have thought that was brilliant to watch. That final was a great advert for Twenty20 cricket."
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo