Saturday, August 19th, 2023


Worcestershire legend Norman Gifford says it would be fitting for the Rapids to mark the 60thanniversary of the first one-day final at Lord’s by winning the 2023 tournament.

Gifford made his List A debut in the 1963 final and won the man of the match award with 4-33 from 15 overs against Sussex who will be the Rapids Metro Bank One Day Cup opponents on Sunday at New Road.

The former England spinner, who ended his career with 2,068 first class wickets, will be attending the fixture and, after hanging up his spikes, had a spell as coach of Sussex.

Gifford, who captained Worcestershire to the 1974 County Championship title, said: “It would be nice to mark the 60th anniversary of that first final by seeing Worcestershire win it and I would be delighted.

“They are a good bunch of lads, they’re behind the skipper and they’ve got a bit of belief in themselves.

“When you watch them play, they look as if they are really up for it. We are playing good cricket.”

“I was pleased to see Rob Jones get runs the other day against Northamptonshire and he looks an excellent signing.”

Gifford says white ball cricket is “unrecognisable” compared to when he played in that first ever Gillette Cup final.

He finished on the losing side in a game scheduled to be 65 overs per side with Worcestershire bowled out in the dark at 9pm chasing a 169 target in an era of no floodlights or fielding restrictions.

It was a million miles away from the explosive hitting, ramp shots et al, evident in List A and T20 cricket circa 2023.

Gifford said: “Never thought that 60 years later we would be playing knockout cricket and the game is unrecognisable to when we walked out for that first final.

“I don’t think you would have seen Tom Graveney playing a ramp shot but the players were good enough to have adapted.

“We just played the sort of cricket we played every day.

“The more you played it, the more idea you got of what to do at certain stages as the years went by, and people got into the tactical side of things.

“When the first final ended, it was nine o’clock, it was dark, no fielding restrictions. Ted Dexter captained Sussex and he worked out how he would set his fields for this one-day competition.

“He was one of the first captains to really go into field placings and where he wanted people. Sussex won it again the following year and had a very good side.

“You wouldn’t have been playing today in the light we faced at the end but everyone just wanted to get the game over in one day and it was a lot of overs, 65 overs each.”

Gifford said: “Looking back, we were still so disappointed that we lost. Nowadays, chasing 168 in 60 odd overs, you would certainly fancy that.

“But the trouble was people got in and got out, Ron Headley, Dick Richardson and Tom Graveney made 20s and Roy Booth ended 33 not out.

“I finished up man of the match but it should have been Jim Parks who got 57 and that was a winning contribution for Sussex.

“We were on the cusp of winning back to back County Championships. It was brilliant to play in a final but to win the Championship the following year for the first time was special.”