Appalling weather the week before the final made winning the toss even more important
than usual, and when Mike Gatting called correctly and put Worcestershire in, Middlesex
had a good advantage. The early overs, from Angus Fraser and Norman Cowans, were
attritional, and the first eight produced just five runs for the loss of Tim Curtis.
Much was expected of the young Graeme Hick, but after one sumptuous drive off Fraser,
he was bowled by one which jagged back, to the crowd's clear disappointment. When
Gatting rested his opening bowlers their figures were 7-5-9-2 (Fraser) and 9-6-9-1
(Cowans). David Leatherdale used his feet well to the spinners in rebuilding the
innings, but his dismissal on the stroke of lunch appeared to put Middlesex in firm
Phil Neale, Worcestershire's captain, played the anchor role but found little support,
and Simon Hughes finally removed him in the 57th over, one of four wickets for him
in 13 balls.
Graham Dilley produced a fiery opening burst to account for John Carr, Andy Needham
and Wilf Slack, and when Gatting was run out ambling to the non-striker's end, Middlesex
were in tatters at 25 for 4. Enter 18-year-old Mark Ramprakash.
A prodigious, if temperamental, talent, Ramprakash played a succession of scrumptious
drives and flicks which oozed confidence. He wore a cap throughout, rather than
a helmet: self-belief indeed.
Roland Butcher's unnecessary run-out for 24 caused a few more wobbles, but John
Emburey provided unorthodox-but-effective support for Ramprakash in a sixth-wicket
stand of 86 which all but ended the contest. Worcestershire had their chances, Hick
dropping Emburey at slip, but as the runs piled on, their fielding grew sloppy.
Dilley returned to remove Emburey, and even though Ramprakash holed out to give
him his fifth wicket, it was too late to affect the outcome.
The crowd, who had come to watch the future of English cricket in Hick, left with
another talented youngster in their thoughts. “It was one of the most composed knocks
I have ever seen from an 18-year-old,” said Gatting.