Randall & The 1985
NatWest Trophy Final

Comment and Analysis | 6th September 2010

Nottinghamshire’s recent disappointment in failing to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Clydesdale Bank 40 competition has denied them the opportunity of redressing a defeat that happened 25 years ago this week.

On 7 September 1985 Essex, who have managed to secure a semi-final berth next weekend, faced Notts - at a packed Lord’s - in one of the most exciting finals of all time.

The National Westminster Bank Trophy competition that year had begun in early July with the 17 First Class counties (as it was then) being joined by another 13 Minor Counties: Bedforshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Devon, Durham, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Suffolk. Matches were of a knock-out format played over 60 overs per innings.

In the First Round Durham (one of those Minor Counties above!) pulled off a shock by defeating Derbyshire by 7 wickets but it was much easier for the eventual finalists. Essex, thanks in part to Paul Prichard’s 94, amassed 307-6 against Oxfordshire, who were then dismissed for 81 with Derek Pringle taking 5-12.

At Trent Bridge Paul Johnson scored an unbeaten century in Notts’ 96 run win over Staffordshire.

Pringle again took five wickets as Essex then swept past Middlesex and they then beat Kent at home to reach the last four.

Meanwhile Tim Robinson enjoyed some good form with the bat and collected successive Man of the Match awards as his 98 not out contributed to a convincing home win over Warwickshire and followed it by cracking 90 at Bristol in a 10 run win over Gloucestershire. Notts had piled up 287-8 but having been 251-5 the home side ran out of steam and finished just short.

That match was tight but there was an even closer conclusion to the Hampshire v Essex semi final. With scores tied on 224 Essex went through by having only lost 7 wickets to their hosts’ 8 with Graham Gooch making 93 not out.

Notts were again indebted to Tim Robinson, whose 139 helped his side chase down a victory target of 233 with four balls and four wickets to spare.

For their first one day final Nottinghamshire selected the following eleven: Tim Robinson, Chris Broad, Clive Rice, Derek Randall, Richard Hadlee, Duncan Martindale, Bruce French, Eddie Hemmings, Andy Pick, Kevin Saxelby and Kevin Cooper.

"Pringle and Fletcher again consulted – there was a nod between the two batters. Nearly there."

Their opponents lined up with Graham Gooch, Brian Hardie, Ken McEwan, Derek Pringle, Paul Prichard, Keith Fletcher, Alan Lilley, David East, Stuart Turner, Ian Pont and John Lever.

Clive Rice won the toss for Notts and decided to insert but Essex got away to a flyer and were indebted to their openers for a stand that was eventually worth 202. Gooch fell just nine short of his century, bowled by Pick, but Hardie reached three figures before being run out on 110. McEwan and Pringle took the total to 280-2 at the end of the innings.

Although chasing a formidable total Notts were always up with the run rate and responded with a huge opening stand of their own. Broad and Robinson had put on 143 before the former fell thanks to a rapier-like throw from the boundary edge by Pont which nestled straight into wicketkeeper East’s gloves.

Broad had made 64 and his Test and county colleague, Robinson, fell soon afterwards for 80. For once Rice and Hadlee fell relatively cheaply (for 12 and 22 respectively) but Derek Randall was still carrying East Midland hopes. For so many years the darling of the Nottinghamshire crowds – a man who enjoyed life almost as much as he enjoyed his cricket – Derek now had the responsibility of seeing his side home. The run rate had risen and his batting partner was unproven. Duncan Martindale was just 21 and playing his first match in the competition.

Together they inched the total closer to their victory target. A half century stand kept Nottinghamshire in contention but it looked as if their race was run with 18 still required from the final over.

Derek Pringle prepared to bowl the final over. Randall was on strike. The two knew each other well – they were England colleagues and had roomed together on an Ashes tour.

It was now or never for ‘Rags’ – who gave himself room outside the leg stump to hit the ball away for a boundary through the offside from the first delivery. 14 were now needed from 5 balls. Essex were still in pole position and their skipper Keith Fletcher had a reassuring word with his bowler.

The next two deliveries were despatched in a similar vein – the ball rocketing over the outfield to the ropes. Suddenly the momentum had swung – 12 from the first three balls meant that Nottinghamshire, thanks to Randall’s heroics, had made it a fifty / fifty game rather than the huge outsiders that they’d been at the start of the over. Just six more needed.

Perhaps sensing that he’d got away with backing to leg for three balls in succession, Randall changed tack for the fourth delivery. He moved across his stumps to flick Pringle to midwicket for two – and then repeated the shot from ball 5 for another couple.

From needing 18 at the start of the over ‘Rags’ had seemingly put Notts on the brink with 16 from five balls – just two more were needed.

Pringle and Fletcher again consulted – there was a nod between the two batters. Nearly there.

With the match and the trophy on the line Derek Pringle bowled the final ball.

Randall made his intentions clear by again backing to the on-side. Pringle later said that he noticed this movement just before releasing the ball and tried to follow him – to tuck him up. The bat made a firm connection with the ball but having played five strokes in succession across the outfield Derek chipped this one in the air. It was firmly struck and would have gone to the boundary had Paul Prichard – at midwicket – not clutched the ball out of the air.

Nottinghamshire had come up short as one side’s celebration became another’s deflation. Essex had won the match but there had been glory in defeat for their opponents.

Derek Randall had made 66 – but felt he’d failed. Martindale, who’d had just a watching brief as the drama had unfolded, ended on 20 not out.

There have been many thrilling climaxes to finals over the years – but surely none so dramatic as the National Westminster Bank Trophy Final of 1985.

Dave Bracegirdle will provide ball-by-ball commentary on Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship match against Yorkshire on behalf of BBC Radio Nottingham.

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