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In 1964 five Minor Counties were added into the mix, and over the years that was increased until 60 sides competed, many in preliminary rounds. But through to the 1980s, the Gillette Cup (which became the NatWest Trophy in 1981) provided domestic midweek entertainment through the summer as well as the traditional end-of-season climax on the first Saturday in September.
There were upsets - Durham became the first Minor County to beat a first-class side when they humiliated Yorkshire in 1973 - and many memorable matches, such as the epic semi-final between Lancashire and Gloucestershire in the Old Trafford twilight in 1971. More often than not matches were sellouts.
In the 1990s the competition began to lose some of its appeal, with a glut of cricket increasingly on television, and rising ticket prices meaning that Lord's failed to sell out for the final for the first time in 1991. This was also reflected in a fall off in attendances during the earlier rounds as well.
Despite this, the tournament retained a decent degree of support, but in 2006 the authorities, incapable of avoiding tinkering, abolished the knockout concept in favour of a third league-style event with a one-off final. Few favoured the change, and in 2007 semi-finals were reintroduced and in 2008 quarter-finals and regional groups. It had, to all intents and purposes, become the Benson & Hedges Cup in all but name.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Graeme Pollock has been among the top three finest players his country ever produced; and not far off that pace in the world rankings either
The sequence of recent stuttering starts in ODIs, with the middle and lower orders picking up the pieces, does not bode well