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Darren Stevens, 46, helped Kent to their first one-day trophy since 1978 with Lancashire’s victory

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Kent legend Stevo signs off in style: 46-year-old Darren Stevens helped the county to their first one-day trophy since 1978 with victory over Lancashire in the Royal London Cup final at Trent Bridge

  • Kent defeated Lancashire by 21 runs to win the Royal London Cup final in Nottingham
  • Darren Stevens, 46, played his last game after 18 seasons with the county
  • It was the first time since 1978 that Kent won a knockout trophy in the game
  • Both sides were eager to win, with Lancashire without cutlery since 1998

Darren Stevens signed with Kent after 18 seasons, as the romantics demanded – with the club’s first knockout trophy since 1978, when Lancashire was defeated by 21 runs in the 50-over Royal London Cup final in Nottingham.

Stevens, now 46, was two years ago when Kent defeated Derbyshire in the old Benson & Hedges Cup at Lord’s. Since then, eight more one-day finals had yielded eight defeats, with Stevens himself involved in four.

His part in yesterday’s win was anything but glamorous – a hopeless 33 unbeaten on 31 balls, then eight wicketless overs for 45. He even limped with a groin injury. But you had to be a Lancashire supporter, or have a heart of stone, not to be excited for the golden oldies of county cricket.

Darren Stevens, 46, finally got a taste of victory in a one-day final as Kent defeated Lancashire

Stevens is almost certain he will not play in Kent’s last two four-day championships, and there is no new contract on the horizon. He wants to play another season, and both Leicestershire, his first county and Glamorgan have made noises.

But if this is it, a career that began in 1997 – before four members of Kent’s winning squad were even born – will have come to an end. A batting average of 125, plus an economy rate of 4.87, spoke of his lasting influence. A banner in one of the stands declared ‘Stevo is God’.

“All you have to do is listen to the ovation,” their captain, Joe Denly, said. “Stevo has been a phenomenal Kent player. He’s a hero in Canterbury.’

Captain Joe Denly led Kent to the Royal London One-Day Cup after Trent Bridge win

Captain Joe Denly led Kent to the Royal London One-Day Cup after Trent Bridge win

England’s premier one-day trophy has declined in importance since the advent of Twenty20 in 2003, resurfacing even further with the onset of the Hundred. Trent Bridge could seat just over 9,000 spectators, meaning it was barely half full.

But make no mistake: both sides craved victory.

Lancashire, for their part, hadn’t had one-day silverware since 1998 and looked on course when Steven Croft – at age 37, a relative novice – brought them to 212 for four behind 307, after building on a 62-ball 72 from opener Keaton Jennings.

Instead, Kent found inspiration in the field. Alex Blake jumped superbly halfway through the wicket to catch Croft for 72 from Nathan Gilchrist, who then moved George Lavelle again and caught Danny Lamb. Grant Stewart was also excellent in the closing stages.

Tom Bailey played for Lancashire and was looking for one day silver for the first time since 1998

Tom Bailey played for Lancashire and was looking for one day silver for the first time since 1998

Previously, the Kent innings centered on a guaranteed 97 from Joey Evison, the 20-year-old who was hired from Nottinghamshire as a Stevens-style all-rounder. He later took the crucial wicket from Dane Vilas and walked away wide-eyed with the Player of the Match award.

Kent was relieved that the conclusion was not tighter, after a moment of carelessness from Harry Finch Lancashire awarded five penalty runs. When wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson gave up a glove to collect a leg-bye, Finch moved to the stumps, put it on his left hand and collected the return – a violation of Law 28.

In the end, the details were drowned out when Denly spoke of breaking “that curse,” and Stevens – enveloped by cheering teammates – waved the trophy.

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