By Neil Fissler
STEVE MARSH admits that Kent were desperate to end 1995 with a trophy in the Canterbury cabinet to avoid being labelled as chokers once again.
Throughout his Kent career Marsh played in four Benson & Hedges Cup Finals in 1986, 1992, 1995, when they went down by 35 runs to Lancashire in a wonderful final, and 1997.
But on all four occasions they finished as runners up and he says that he desperately wanted to have something to show for his long service at the county.
The wicketkeeper-batsman also saw Kent fall agonisingly short in the Championship three times, in 1988, 1992 and 1997, while they also finished runners up in the Sunday League in 1993 and 1997.
Kent won their first trophy for 19 years with the 1995 Sunday League success on a run rate of 93.49 after finishing level on 50 points with Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
“We were a very good side and we felt that we should be winning competitions but the problem was we got tarnished with the label of chokers,” said Marsh.
“It was such a disappointment to fall short in so many competitions.
“I am often asked if that was a good season or a bad season but you are only judged on what you win.
“Finishing second means nothing, it means that you are the first losers. But we were a very good team and really deserved to win the Sunday League.
“A league is judged over the whole season and we were the best side.
“It’s not like a knock out competition where you can be a bit lucky and still win it, we were consistent throughout and it meant a lot to us.”
The failures of the 1990s were in stark contrast to the 1970s when Kent won two County Championships, a Gillette Cup, three Sunday League and three Benson & Hedges Cups.
“We were always reminded of the 70s team everywhere we went and in a way that was quite right but things progressed and playing in the 1990s was a lot different to what it was then,” added Marsh.
“It is like now. We were quite a good fielding side back then but now we would get murdered by the way that teams field. It is unfair to compare teams from different eras.”
Marsh believes that Kent should have been celebrating the double that season thanks to a brilliant 112 from Sri Lankan overseas star Aravinda de Silva against Lancashire at Lord’s.
And he feels that Graham Cowdrey being given out changed the course of the final as De Silva thought he had to change the way he was playing.
“We should have won that final as well because Aravinda de Silva played brilliantly and he had Graham Cowdrey going very well with him but then he was given out LBW,” added Marsh.
“If you had DRS now I can tell you it wouldn’t have hit another set of stumps and then Aravinda thought that he had to take it on himself even though we still had a few guys to go.
“The likes of Matthew Fleming and Mark Ealham were still to come in but then in the end we fell a bit short and it was a tough one to take.
“It was one of the best hundreds you will ever see in a Lord’s Final but instead of trying to win the match all by himself he should have played normally and we would have won that trophy as well.”
Back row (left-right):
Mark Ealham: An England international all-rounder who played in eight Tests and 64 one-day internationals before finishing his career with Nottinghamshire. His father Alan also played for Kent. Now the cricket professional at King’s School, Canterbury and is also Kent’s bowling coach.
Nigel Llong: A left-handed batsman who, after nine years with Kent, joined Norfolk prior to becoming a first class umpire in 2002. He is also on the ICC panel of elite umpires.
Tim Wren: The left-arm seamer was a plumbing and heating engineer outside the season and is still a partner in the family business J & T Wren in his native Folkestone.
Martin McCague: An England international fast bowler was a sales manager at brewers Shepherd Neame for seven years before moving onto Matthew Clark wine and spirit merchants in a similar role.
Dean Headley: The England fast bowler’s grandfather George and father Ron both played for the West Indies and he is now the cricket pro at Stamford School and is also director of an events company.
Trevor Ward: An England Under-19 international batsman settled in Leicestershire where he finished his career and is now the cricket professional at Uppingham School.
Min Patel: An England international left arm spinner went onto co-found the Spindles Cricket Academy after retiring in 2008. Also coaches at Kent and for the Cricket Conference.
Graham Cowdrey: The batsman son of Colin Cowdrey captained England and lives in Maidstone. He has worked in finance and fundraising and in February he was appointed a cricket liaison officer by the ECB.
Aravinda de Silva: The Sri Lankan batsman was the head of the national selection committee. Now running his own cricket foundation in Sri Lanka.
Mark Benson: The Kent captain, who was a left handed batsman, played for England and became an umpire after retiring in 1997. He also spent time on the ICC elite empires panel.
Steve Marsh: Wicketkeeper who spent nine years as events director for the Professional Cricketers Association and is now a director of Foreign Exchange firm Plutus FX.
Matthew Fleming: An all rounder who played 11 one-day internationals for England and was an officer in the Royal Green Jackets. His great-grandfather, Charles Leslie, played for Middlesex and England and he is director of a financial firm as well as the MCC chairman of cricket.
David Fulton: The former opening batsman who became the county captain is now a journalist and reports on cricket for Sky Sports News.
Alan Igglesden: The England international bowler was sports centre manager at Woodhouse Grove School and has also worked at Sutton Valence School.
Julian Thompson: The former fast bowler is still based in Canterbury and is a GP at the Cossington House Surgery.
Matthew Walker: A batsman who became batting coach at Essex, where he ended his career, but is now back at Kent as assistant coach to Jimmy Adams.
Simon Willis: The former wicket-keeper is the brother-in-law of Ealham and is now high performance director for Kent Cricket.
This article was originally published in The Cricket Paper, May 29 2015