worcestershire head coach kevin sharp revealed his pride at the performances of the rapids players after they went down to kent spitfires in a royal london one-day cup semi-final thriller at New Road.
ben cox (122 not out), brett d’oliveira (78) and ed barnard (50 not out) propelled north group winners the rapids to 306-6 in their 50 overs – a recovery from 48-4 – after electing to bat.
it was yet another exciting spectacle for a new road crowd to feast upon after the rapids superb performances in achieving a 100 per cent home record earlier in the tournament.
a fourth century in five games from spitfires opener heido kuhn saw his side to victory with two balls to spare despite all the sterling efforts of the home side’s bowlers and fielders.
but, although the rapids players will be hurting after such a setback, they showed again what a force they have become in white ball cricket and young players like pace duo dillon pennington and pat brown will only benefit from such experiences on a high profile stage.
sharp said: “it has been a rollercoaster tournament. there have been times when we’ve sometimes looked like we might be out of a game and we’ve clawed it back.
“other times we’ve looked comfortable and it has got close. it hasn’t surprised me at all that it has gone all the way again today – two great sides playing great cricket and what a spectacle.
“obviously gutted. the club has not been in a final for a while. it looked at times as if we would do that and at other times, we might not.
“we weren’t sure what was going to happen right to the last minute there. it looked at though there might be a twist in the tail but not quite.
“but i’m very proud of the boys. they worked so hard and they are improving all the time and although, they are still relatively young in age, they are more experienced now and are actually learning how to win games.
“i know we haven’t quite won this one but, two semi-finals in two years, maybe next time it will be a final.”
sharp added: “this is my fifth season at the club now and it’s been great to see these lads develop and grow and learn and become stronger and wiser.
“you can see that in their cricket. there may have been times a few years ago where they may not have managed to recover from 48-4.
“but to make 300, and those partnerships and particularly the innings from coxy, was a delight to see.
“ben is an outstanding cricketer and i’m sure there will be some recognition from above for him at some stage.
“he would certainly deserve that. he is a fine talent, not just with the bat but with the gloves. he is an outstanding all-rounder.
“ed barnard is a potential international for us here, a genuine all-rounder, so we are developing some fine young cricketers here and everyone can see that.
“worcestershire is a well respected club and the fact we do actually nurture our own players and play them, it’s a credit.
“their innings was similar to ours. they lost early wickets, they recovered, got themselves in a good position, then looked as though they just might slip behind, and then blake played some outstanding shots and got them back in the game and the opening batsman (kuhn) played a fantastic innings for them.”
centurion cox said: “absolutely chuffed to make my maiden list a hundred yet devastated to be on the losing side- but we gave it a right old go! we’ll come back stronger that’s for sure. well played kent and wish you the best of luck in the final.”