By Neil Fissler
Geoff Cook admits that he still cannot believe that Northants failed to win a trophy in 1987 despite reaching two Lord’s finals.
Cook was Northants captain when they lost in both the finals of the Benson & Hedges Cup and the NatWest Trophy within eight weeks of each other.
While he remembers that they were also in the running for the County Championship as well as the Sunday League for much of the season as well.
They lost the final of the Benson & Hedges to Yorkshire, while Notts beat them in the final of the NatWest to add to their County Championship crown.
Cook said: “I suppose ultimately it was a disappointing season, we had a really good squad assembled at that time – David Capel was probably playing at the peak of his talents.
“We had Wayne Larkins, Allan Lamb, two really good overseas players in Winston Davis and Roger Harper who shared the load. Nick Cook and Richard Williams shared the spin duties.
“So we had a really good balance and lots of ability in the team, so not to win a trophy was really disappointing.
“The two cup finals made one story, but another part of it is that we were either at the top, or near the top, of the County Championship until August time.
“We went to Lancashire and were outplaying them and I think it rained for the last day and a half and that was a catalyst for the run-in until the end of the season.
“If we had won that game it would likely have launched us onto a likely title win. It was also a similar story in the Sunday League.
“I would have to take a little bit of the blame. I didn’t tighten things up towards the finish.
We should probably have re-focused with a bit better leadership towards the end, and it might have paid dividends.”
In a most exciting Benson & Hedges Cup final Northants clocked up 244-7 thanks to Capel scoring 97 off just 109 balls, which kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Yorkshire put on 97 for the first wicket and even though two runs outs kept the game in the balance Jim Love (75) and Arnie Sidebottom survived the final over to win on losing fewer wickets.
Cook added: “Yorkshire were probably the better team against us. David Capel made 97, playing some really good cricket and was coming to the fore then with both batting and bowling.
“He was full of ambition and was just on the fringe of playing for England, and we really benefited by his development.
“But it was a repeat of 1981 NatWest Final when we lost to Derbyshire off the last ball of the game.”
Then eight weeks later they were back at the home of cricket for the NatWest Trophy final scoring 228-3 in a match reduced to 50 overs after being extended to a second day.
But the game was taken away from them by Clive Rice, who scored 63 and then Richard Hadlee with an unbeaten 70 to see them home with three balls to spare.
Cook said: “We were probably the better team against Notts. We dropped some catches, which didn’t help, and the game spilled over to two days.
“And then Richard Hadlee did some good stuff on the last day. But it was an amazing season, so many victories but no cigars.”
BACK ROW (left-right):
Bernie Clarke: The county scorer until 1989 who died in Northampton in October 2000.
David Capel: An all-rounder who spent 33 years at Northants as player and then coach beforel leaving in 2012. He is now coaching the England’s women’s team.
Alan Walker: A seamer who went into coaching and is Durham’s bowling coach and is also assistant coach to Durham University.
Winston Davis: West Indies fast bowler who broke his neck in an accident while clearing land for a church in his native Caribbean and now lives in Bewdley, Worcestershire.
Simon Brown: An England seamer after working as relationship manager for Northern Rockford, RBS and Homeland he is now a finance director at PwC.
Duncan Wild: A Northampton born batsman whose father John played for Northants – is the marketing director of a specialist clothing firm.
Nick Cook: An England batsman; went into coaching but has been standing as a first-class umpire since 2009.
David Ripley: A wicket-keeper batsman, replaced Capel as Northants head coach in 2012 after coaching the youths and second XI following his retirement.
Rob Bailey: A middle-order batsman whose father in law Roy Wills played for Northants and has been a first-class umpire since 2006.
Allan Lamb: South-African born England international batsman, has worked in television and runs AL Associates an event management, hospitality and luxury holiday business.
Wayne Larkins: Dashing right-handed batsman and occasional medium paced bowler who served Northants for 19 seasons and also played for England, Durham, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. Larkins has worked as a milkman and is now living in Warwickshire.
Geoff Cook: A batsman who, after retiring, ran Durham cricket academy and then became first team coach. He is now working in a youth development role.
Roger Harper: West Indies all rounder who bowled off-spin as well as being rated as one of the world’s finest fielders. He later went into coaching and has coached West Indies and Kenya, and is now back home in Guyana coaching Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Richard Williams: Batsman based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, is an electrician by trade and now runs his own business, Richard Williams Installations.
Robin Boyd-Moss: An all-rounder who settled in Kenya where he has run a garage, car hire business and also a farm.
Mark Robinson: A Yorkshire-born right-arm seamer, who has now settled in Sussex where he ended his playing career. He is now the long-serving head coach at Hove.
Gareth Smith: A seamer who has worked in marketing and is digital marketing manager for Drager medical devices.
Stuart Waterton: A wicket-keeper who is brand manager of Kookaburra Sport UK.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday October 16, 2015