NORTHANTS seamer Tim Lamb believes his county had no right to claim their second ever trophy when they beat Essex to win the Benson & Hedges Cup.
Northants had been so often the bridesmaids in Lord’s cup finals, losing six times between 1979 and 1996 with five of them in the Gillette Cup and NatWest Trophies.
But just 12 months after losing the 1979 Gillette final to Somerset they were back at Lord’s to face defending champions Essex in the B&H Cup showpiece. Jim Watt’s side had made stately progress through the competition, not losing one of their four zonal games to book a quarter-final against Notts (143) whom they beat by seven wickets.
They then saw off Middlesex (195) in the semi-final at Lord’s by nine runs to reach the final and bid to win the second trophy in their history. The first had arrived in 1976 when they beat Lancashire by four wickets in the Gillette Cup. (Since then they have won only a NatWest Trophy in 1992, Division Two title in 2000 and t20 last year).
Rain prevented play on the Saturday and two days later, after winning the toss, Watt decided to bat first and Northants posted 209 all out thanks in no small part on 72 from Allan Lamb. In reply Essex were coasting until Graham Gooch on 60 was caught by Allan Lamb off the bowling of Tim Lamb. Essex then ran out of steam and ended on 203-8 to lose by six runs.
Lamb says: “Of the three cup finals I played in for Northants 1979, 1980 and 1981 we probably had no right to win that game out of all of them.
“It was as much Essex snatching defeat from the jaws of victory because they were 110-1 with something like 30 overs left.
“Then I ‘strangled’ Graham Gooch caught by my namesake at short midwicket with a ball which as soon as it left my hand I thought would be going for four.
“It is just as well Allan caught it because it would have killed him. Graham hit it right in the middle of the bat but he held it in front of his eyes and the Essex innings went downhill from there.
“I know Essex threw the game away but we bowled really well. Richard Williams and Sarfraz Nawaz, who was a very good ‘death’ bowler, did so well.”
Lamb was reminded of the Northants cup final victory after almost 25 years thanks to being asked for his autograph at Lord’s last weekend.
He explains: “I was at the MCC anniversary match against Hertfordshire at the weekend and somebody asked me to sign a book which was opened at the page which gave the scorecards of that match.
“It is funny because a few weeks ago I was at home with my son and I was playing a video compiled for me by my brother of games that I had been in.
“And one of the games on the tape was the 1980 B&H Cup final which I have since had transferred onto DVD. I sat down with my son and watched it, and everything is so very vivid in my memory thanks to those grainy videos.”
BACK ROW (LEFT-RIGHT):
Allan Lamb: South African-born England international batsman who also played for Western Province and Orange Free State. He has worked in television and runs AL Associates an event management and hospitality and luxury holiday business.
Tim Lamb: A seamer who also played for Middlesex where he later became secretary prior to going to work for the then TCCB as secretary then chief executive. He left the ECB in 2004 and was chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance until retiring.
Sarfraz Nawaz: Pakistan fast bowler who played at the County Ground between 1969 and 1982 who is credited with discovering reverse swing. After retiring he went into politics. He has worked in the media and opened his own cricket academy in Islamabad.
Jim Griffiths: A seam bowler who ended his 177-game first class career with a batting average of 3.33. He became a driver for Carlsberg breweries and then a local haulage contractor after being made redundant.
Jim Yardley: Middle order batsman who won a County Championship with Worcestershire. He became a sales representative for a drinks company and emigrated to Canada where was territory manager for the Premium Beer Company. He died in November 2010, aged 64.
Wayne Larkins: Batsman who served Northants for 19 seasons and played for England, Durham, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. Larkins worked as a milkman and is now living in Warwickshire.
Bob Carter: A medium pace bowler who also played football for Norwich City. He was later Northants director of cricket before moving to New Zealand where he is NZC’s head performance coach.
Richard Williams: Batsman and off-spinner who served Northants for 18 summers is based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. An electrician by trade he now runs his own business, Richard Williams Installations
George Sharp: A wicketkeeper-batsman who served Northants for 17 seasons. He became a first-class umpire in 1992 and, like Peter Willey, is still on the county circuit. He has also been a co-director of GSM Loams.
Peter Willey: Batsman who also played for Leicestershire and England. After retiring he became a leading umpire, standing in 25 Test matches and can still be seen on the county scene.
Jim Watts: Middle order batsman who had two spells at the county after originally retiring in 1966. His brother, Peter, also played for the county. A teacher, he is now living in Llanfyllin, Wales.
Geoff Cook: A batsman who played for Northants and Durham where he became the first captain when the North-east county obtained first-class status. After retiring he ran the academy then became first team coach. He is now working in a youth development role.