1988 Refuge Assurance Cup (lost footage of one-day county cricket tournament matches; 1988)

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Programme for the Semi-Finals.

Status: Lost

The 1988 Refuge Assurance Cup marked the first of an annual one-day 40-over county cricket tournament, pitting the top-ranking teams from the Sunday League. Occurring on 7th and 18th September 1988, the Final at the Edgbaston saw Lancashire defeat 1988 Refuge Assurance League champions Worcestershire by 52 runs to claim the title.


The Sunday League itself, then known as the Refuge Assurance League for sponsorship reasons, had been held since 1969.[1] Consisting of one-day 40-overs matches, Worcestershire topped the 1988 standings after winning twelve games and losing three, scoring 50 points overall.[2][1] Gloucestershire, Lancashire, and Middlesex finished second, third, and fourth respectively on 44 points each, Gloucestershire outranking the others by virtue of a better average run rate.[2] Following the season, the team would compete in the inaugural Refuge Assurance Cup, which pitted the top-four counties in the Sunday League in a one-day 40-overs knockout tournament.[3][1] By finishing first and second, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire held the home advantage against Middlesex and Lancashire respectively.[3] Notably, the matches would feature an experimental orange ball, its usage receiving mixed reception.[3]

The Matches

Lancashire and Gloucestershire competed at the Royal and Sun Alliance County Ground, with the former winning the toss and electing to field first.[4][3] Gloucestershire batsmen Andy Stovold withstood overs from Paul Allott to accumulate 40 runs, eventually being dismissed by Jack Simmons.[3][4] The team generally struggled to build on that, Paul Romaines and Mark Alleyne contributing with 15 runs each.[5][3][4] Simmons and Allot meanwhile had strong bowling performances, achieving 3/14 and 2/14 respectively, Allot also having dismissed Bill Athey for a duck.[5][4] Gloucestershire eventually scored 117/9, the team's struggles on a slow pitch and a failed attempt to accelerate Simmon's off-spin being cited as reasons for the low score.[5][4] Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1989 speculated that had Allott successfully bowled out Stovold early on, Gloucestershire probably would have struggled to even reach 100.[5] Lancashire's batting was generally unspectacular, Andrew Hayhurst scoring 26 and Graeme Fowler 19.[5][4] However, Lancashire did struggle when Hayhurst and two other players were quickly dismissed in just seven balls, Victor Greene securing 2/16.[5][4] Nevertheless, Allott and Mike Watkinson achieved an unbeaten partnership to win by three wickets with just five balls to spare.[5][4]

Meanwhile, at County Ground, Worcestershire won the toss and decided to initially field.[6][5] This was likely in response to a dry pitch, which favoured the quicker bowlers.[5][6] Middlesex's innings consequently started slowly, with Worcestershire's Richard Illingworth achieving 4/23.[5][6] After nine wickets were taken, Middlesex had only accumulated 110 runs.[5][6] However, an unbeaten partnership from Paul Downton and Norman Cowans garnered a further 36 runs by the time the innings was up.[5][6] Despite this, Worcestershire required fewer than four runs per over to win.[5] Graeme Hick and David Leatherdale conducted a strong partnership of 66 runs, the latter boasting a better run rate before being bowled out by Simon Hughes.[5][6] However, Worcestershire required just another six runs to win, Hick achieving this with eight balls to spare.[5][6]

The Final occurred on 18th September, in front of 14,416 at the Edgbaston.[5][7] Worcestershire, who was seeking a treble after winning the Sunday League and Britannic Assurance Championship, won the toss and elected to field.[5][7] Lancashire's innings started disastrously as Gehan Mendis was bowled out for a duck, and Hayhurst was out for one, leaving the team on 4/2.[5][7] However, 26 from Fowler and 38 from Neil Fairbrother kickstarted a recovery, and a nine-over partnership from Trevor Jesty and Watkinson produced a further 81 runs.[5][7] By the innings' conclusion, Lancashire were on 201/5.[5][7] Worcestershire's innings also started slowly, Watkinson ultimately dismissing top batsman Hick for two.[5][7] 42 from Neale, 32 from Timothy Curtis, and 30 from Leatherdale contributed towards Worcestershire being on 144/5.[5][7] Not long after Neale was caught, however, Worcestershire suffered a massive collapse.[5][7] The team ultimately lost the final five wickets in three overs and with only a further five runs being scored.[5][7] Therefore, Lancashire comfortably won by 52 runs, Watkinson being awarded Man of the Match for his unbeaten 42 and for taking out Hick and Neale before they became significant threats.[5][7] This proved to be Lancashire's only Refuge Assurance Cup victory.[8]


Based on BBC Genome's archive of Radio Times issues, the BBC's television coverage of the tournament was unusual.[9] It alternated live coverage of one Semi-Final match on BBC One and BBC Two, though did showcase highlights from the other game at 11 pm.[9] However, the Final only received a radio broadcast.[9] This likely stemmed from the BBC focusing its Grandstand coverage primarily on the 1988 Summer Olympics.[10] Hence, it is unclear whether the Final was even filmed. As for the Semi-Finals, no footage has since publicly resurfaced.

See Also