Friends Provident Trophy Final
Kent 214 (R McLaren 63, M van Jaarsveld 58) v Essex 218-5 (G W Flower 70 no)
Essex beat Kent by 5 wkts
Veteran Grant Flower made an unbeaten 70 to guide Essex to a five-wicket victory over Kent in the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord's.
The 37-year-old steadied the ship after a flurry of wickets had left Essex wobbling on 93-4 as they chased Kent's 215 all out in 40 overs.
When Essex lost England pair Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook in consecutive Robbie Joseph overs, momentum appeared to be switching towards Robert Key's team.
But Zimbabwean Flower nudged the ball into gaps and ran his opponents ragged in a 68-run stand with James Foster, in which his partner's share was just 18.
That fifth-wicket alliance broke the back of the pursuit and Flower did not allow the required run rate get much beyond five per over even after the loss of
Foster - who became the third victim of the lively Joseph.
Any late-innings nerves were quelled when, with 26 required from the final five overs, Ryan ten Doeschate helped a delivery from Yasir Arafat off his pads and down the Lord's slope for four.
Flower, who clipped, cut and dabbed his way to a 73-ball 50, fittingly sealed the success by lofting a full toss from Azhar Mahmood over mid-on for four.
Former Pakistan all-rounder Mahmood earlier struck twice during the powerplay overs to keep Kent hopes of victory alive, removing openers Mark Pettini and Jason Gallian in two separate spells.
Essex set off at a gallop in pursuit of their target but were checked when Mahmood, from the nursery end, trapped captain Pettini in front of the stumps.
Veteran Gallian, who struck some crisp early boundaries, then followed when Mahmood, having switched to the pavilion end, was bowled via an inside edge.
Cook and Bopara attempted to steady things but the loss of the latter to a contentious leg before wicket threw the game back into the balance.
Joseph's first over of a new spell resulted in Bopara being struck high by a delivery of extra bounce which appeared to be passing over the top of the
Left-hander Cook then perished in a soft manner as he poked a Joseph long hop into the covers, where Darren Stevens stooped to complete the dismissal.
Essex might have been chasing a less substantial target but for a late injection of runs from Ryan McLaren, one of Kent's South African contingent.
His classy 63, which was terminated by the final ball of the innings, was the only other innings of substance after Martin van Jaarsveld extended his
extraordinary form in this year's competition.
Van Jaarsveld, 34, came into the contest on the back of 602 runs in just eight FPT matches.
He added another 58 to his tally to counteract a successful start by the Essex pace attack.
Indeed he should have been one of the casualties but survived when, having yet to score, he appeared to be plumb lbw to the impressive Graham Napier.
A full delivery beat van Jaarsveld for pace but umpire George Sharp turned down the exaggerated appeal from all-rounder Napier.
Napier was also denied from a worthy shout when Justin Kemp was struck on the pads in the next over, the eighth of the innings, after heralded Kent opening
duo Robert Key and Joe Denly were prised out in the opening half-dozen overs.
Despite losing the toss, Essex new-ball duo Napier and David Masters exploited the movement on offer expertly.
When Mahmood miscued off leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, Kent were reeling on 100 for six.
But left-hander McLaren played with calm authority, initially alongside van Jaarsveld and then during a 66-run stand with Yasir Arafat (27).
Kent were forced into their recovery position after they lost half their side by the 27th of the innings.
Key was unfortunately given out caught behind by wicketkeeper Foster, standing up to the stumps, off David Masters - when bat actually made contact with pad.
Denly was then bowled by Napier in the next over, the sixth of the innings, by a delivery which nipped back down the famous Lord's slope.
Essex were rewarded for their persistence, which was no doubt encouraged by the exaggerated seam movement on offer.
The prolific van Jaarsveld's first boundary was a moral victory for Napier, who beat his opponent for pace and watched the ball spoon over square leg from a
hurried pull shot.
Kemp attempted to hit himself back into form with a counter-attack against first-change bowler Chris Wright, twice hitting him down the ground for four in
But a similar tactic against the accurate Masters cost him dear as an inside edge crashed into off-stump.
Kent were reeling moments later when Darren Stevens' static waft at Wright left them 59 for four.
Hopes of setting a challenging total were therefore firmly in the hands of van Jaarsveld, who emphasised the richness of his current form with a classical
on-driven four in Masters' final over of a spell of 10-2-32-2.
He and 2005 Ashes hero Geraint Jones were separated when the latter misjudged a flipper and Kaneria doubled his tally thanks to Mahmood's adventurous blow.
Over-ambition arguably accounted for van Jaarsveld in the 37th over as he spiralled an attempted pull at Wright and perished to a fine diving catch at
midwicket by Alastair Cook.
But McLaren and Arafat rallied from 138 for seven before both were bowled by medium-pacer Bopara at the death.