The year before favourites Lancashire had come unstuck at Headingley in the quarter-finals of the Nat West Trophy. The Red Rose had revenged their surprise exit earlier in the season with one of the most dramatic, heart-stopping cup ties you could ever wish to see, winning by one wicket off the last ball of a pulsating Benson & Hedges Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.
It left two sides going head-to-head absolutely determined to put one over on their opponents, with the small matter of a Lord’s final once again at stake.
The majority of a near-capacity crowd of 17,591 were silenced early on as they watched Lancashire subside to 52-3 as the pitch seamed with some bounce. Mike Atherton, dropped twice, eventually edged Richard Stemp for 18 off 60 balls, Jason Gallian was victim of a crazy run out, while Neil Fairbrother charged Stemp only to hole out to Anthony McGrath on the boundary for 0.
John Crawley and Graham Lloyd came together to add some impetus to the Lancashire innings. Crawley was all elegance for his 62, while Lloyd only requiring 90 balls for his savage 81. The pair put on 145 for the fourth wicket in 27 overs before departing in successive overs but the momentum was now with the home side.
Mike Watkinson and Warren Hegg maintained the charge, both scoring 35 and adding a further 53 in eight overs to take Lancashire in sight of 300. They failed only because Darren Gough took three wickets in the last over and had to settle for 293 for 9 from their 60 overs.
Significantly the White Rose bowlers had conceded nearly three overs in no balls and wides with some untidy bowling, and in the end that was virtually the difference between the sides.
Yorkshire began shakily but skipper David Byas restored some order with 39. Michael Bevan, who was due to take a plane to Australia that night featured in two partnerships, firstly with his captain and then with McGrath but at 180 for 3 Ian Austin struck three in nine balls to swing the game decisively Lancashire’s way.
The Lancashire all-rounder bowled McGrath, and then watched as Gary Yates pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch at mid wicket to send back White for 4. The England man was quickly followed by Bevan who dragged a catch to long on in the 50th over, and the Australian went straight off to catch his flight. He had done as much as he could, his 85 was a quality innings-the highest score of the day-but by now the required rate was climbing steadily and drastic action had been needed.
There was some heroic hitting from Gough with his never-say-die attitude bringing 42 off 33 balls to causing some further alarm in the Red Rose camp, but the Lancashire score was always going to be just too many to chase. Gough departed in the last over to a skier hit over his head to Glen Chapple at deep backward square leg, and the Red Rose side ran out winners by 19 runs.
It meant a second Lord’s final of the season for Lancashire, and Mike Watkinson’s side emulated the achievement of the 1990 team in winning both Lord’s finals in the B&H Cup and Nat West Trophy to cap a memorable season.