Kent pay price for indisciplined batting
By Simon Mann at Lord's
Grant Flower, the oldest man on the pitch, transformed a tense final into a comfortable canter for a buoyant Essex team as Kent paid for their careless batting.
Flower was not the obvious match-winner coming into the game but he has played more one-day internationals than anyone on either side and he used that experience to wrestle the match away from Kent.
Alastair Cook's bizarre downfall against Robbie Joseph had put Kent on top for the first time in the game. Flower immediately took his only liberty, driving a good length ball over extra cover to get off the mark.
But from there he reigned himself in, reasoning that if he batted through to the end Essex would win. It was not spectacular but his ruthless professionalism contrasted sharply with Kent's earlier indiscipline.
Justin Kemp and Darren Stevens will not be proud of their dismissals but neither can compete with Azhar Mahmood's preposterous stroke against Danish Kaneria - a tame, lofted drive against the spin straight to Flower at long off when judicious retrenchment was required.
It was the sort of shot that makes a captain scrub your name of the team sheet for the next match. Think Kevin Pietersen at Edgbaston and double it. Azhar though has the all-rounder's luxury of making up for it with the ball and his dismissals of Mark Pettini and Jason Gallian at least gave his team a chance.
It would have been worse for Kent if umpire George Sharp had given out Martin van Jaarsveld leg before to Graham Napier from the first ball he faced. It looked plum. Sharp had an undistinguished day, also giving Ravi Bopara was out lbw to a ball that was going over the top.
Many players have been picked for England on the basis of a good performance in a Lord's final. The selectors try to do it a little more scientifically these days but the big match in front of a large crowd does test a player's temperament.
None of the England qualified players on display significantly improved their international chances although James Foster took a good catch standing up to the new ball and played a sensible supporting role in the vital fifth wicket stand with Flower.
Foster's wicketkeeping is very much his strongest suit. His one blemish was watching Ryan McLaren's edge fly between him and Gallian at slip. It could have been costly with McLaren, who top-scored with 63, on nought at the time.
Another England hopeful, Joe Denly, played two sweet strokes before receiving a decent ball from Napier that defeated his ambitious shot. He was bowled through the gate by one that came back down the slope.
The charm of these occasions lies in the unexpected success of an unsung player. Flower did the job with the bat while seam bowler David Masters bowled a fine spell with the new ball to set Kent back at the start of their innings. A match against a former county - Masters once played for the men from Canterbury - has a habit of inspiring players .
Kent, probably a stronger team on paper, lacked the same edge. They played well in losing the Twenty20 final; here they let themselves down.