Kent 147 for 6 (Walker 45, Stevens 30*) beat Gloucestershire 146 for 8 (Marshall 65, McLaren 3-22) by four wickets
Kent claimed only their third domestic title in 29 years with a thrilling four-wicket victory in an action-packed and controversial Twenty20 final against Gloucestershire. Needing 13 off the final over, Darren Stevens crunched two boundaries off an overawed Carl Greenidge, but in chaotic scenes there was confusion over if the match had actually been won.
The equation had come down to six off three balls when Stevens launched Greenidge over cover. Kent's batsmen ran off to begin celebrating, but Gloucestershire were ready for another ball and the umpires weren't sure either. It had been missed, apparently by everyone except TV, that a no-ball had also been called. After a consultation between the umpires the Kent celebrations began in front of a near full-house.
The champagne spraying was led by Robert Key, but the final was tinged with a moment of controversy involving the Kent captain's dismissal for 18. He flicked a ball from Greenidge and Hamish Marshall dived forward at midwicket to claim, what appeared, another impressive catch. Key took Marshall's word and made his way off, but in similar scenes to Kevin Pietersen's 'dismissal' at Lord's against India earlier this season the big screen flashed up a replay before Key reached the boundary.
He lingered inside the rope, but by now the umpires (Neil Mallender at square leg had been happy about the catch), and players were ready for the next delivery and the TV replay wasn't called for. Clearly unimpressed, Key flung his bat across the boundary and stormed into the Kent dug-out. A short while afterwards, having calmed down in the dressing-room, he told Sky Sports: "I'm surprised they didn't take it to the third umpire. The boys told me to go back like Kevin Pietersen."
Repercussions are likely for such a clear show of dissent, but it proved how much the players now want to win the Twenty20 and that it is played as intensely as the other tournaments. "I'll probably cop it," admitted Key afterwards. However, it shouldn't take away from an impressive performance by Kent who were on-song throughout the day. In the end, Key was able to smile with his first trophy as captain and said: "Two overs from the end I was back in the dressing kicking a few things around thinking we were done for, but it's pretty special."
Ryan McLaren's hat-trick, the fifth in English Twenty20, helped restrict Gloucestershire to 146, a total around par for the day where scoring never appeared quite as easy as first imagined. After slipping to 62 for 4, Gloucestershire threatened a recovery as Marshall, with a 49-ball 65, formed a useful stand with Mark Hardinges before McLaren intervened. Marshall chopped into his stumps as he tried to glide a ball to third man, Stephen Adshead was cleaned-up by a beauty that held its line and took off stump and Ian Fisher was trapped in front.
As in the semi-final against Sussex, Kent's chase was handed a flying start by Key and Joe Denly. After Key's dismissal Denly and Walker continued to make good progress. However, Hardinges removed Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld as the pressure mounted. Then Jon Lewis brought himself back and picked up Matthew Walker on the deep square-leg boundary and bowled McLaren. When Geraint Jones was involved in a manic run out, slipping as he tried to abort a second run, Gloucestershire were sensing the win.
But Lewis had gambled on giving the final over to Greenidge, the weakest link in his attack, and the move backfired badly as he followed long-hop with half-volley, even bowling one delivery off two steps. Stevens connected cleanly with two mighty swings and the first trophy of the season was heading to Canterbury. That, though, was only one of the talking points from another eventful Twenty20 final.