The 1989 Nat West Bank Trophy Final between Warwickshire and Middlesex at Lord’s contained only one six.

But what a six.

What a shot. What a moment.

Very few single swings of a cricket bat enter folklore, still to be widely recalled decades later. That one did.

The last over of a low-scoring final. The light is fading fast. Warwickshire need nine runs from five balls – a big ask at the end of a match in which fours have been sparse and sixes non-existent.

Simon Hughes bowls to Neil Smith.


Smith launches the ball straight and high into the crowd at the Nursery End. Not quite the winning runs – but effectively the winning runs. Two balls later Smith and Asif Din scamper two and the Bears have won.

But that six. What a shot. Audacious. Wonderful.

Neil Smith’s recollection of it?

“It was a horrible shot…but it saved my career.”

The all-rounder looks back on that day with great fondness. But the shot itself? Just a gamble that paid off.

“Simon Hughes bowled a lot of slower balls,” he said. “So I gambled that this would be another. I hit it well, to be fair. It came out of the screws. But it was a pretty horrible shot.

“It did the job though and yes, it is a pretty special memory. A lot of people remember it because it was so unusual. These days, with T20 and so much cricket on telly, a lot of games are won with sixes but back then a match-winning six was rare. And Warwickshire fans remember it as the win that kick-started the ’90s era.

“It certainly helped saved my career. Up to that weekend, I was looking at the chop. My contract was up at the end of the season and I had made a few contributions in one-day cricket but not done much in first-class cricket. But then on the Friday I scored my maiden-century against Yorkshire at Headingley after going in as nightwatchman and next day came the final and that six. Those two innings together earned me another contract and the chance to learn enough to build a career.

“It’s funny because I remember people saying after the game ‘here’s a young lad with a big-game temperament’ – just because I got lucky with one hit! But hearing people say that did boost my confidence.”

It was not just Smith’s career boosted by that Lord’s victory. The 1980s was a less-than-golden era for Warwickshire and lifting a trophy meant they ended a thin decade on a high – though no-one suspected just what the ’90s would bring.

It was a cup final very much of its time, reflects Smith. A low-scoring affair (Middlesex made 210 for five from 60 overs) in which, unlike today, bowlers were treated with a modicum of respect. Even the great Desmond Haynes took 99 balls over 50 and Mark Ramprakash made 24 in 65 balls against an attack led by Dermot Reeve (12-4-27-1), Smith (one for 33), Gladstone Small (one for 35) and Tim Munton (one for 37). Strangely, Allan Donald was most expensive with one for 41.

An unbroken stand of 62 in the last ten overs by Paul Downton and John Emburey lifted Middlesex to a total which, in more measured-scoring, Pre-T20 days, looked far from easy.

“It was a dank September day and a slow wicket with a bit of nip for the seamers and turn as well,” said Smith. “But also, in those days, bowlers were allowed to bowl. As a young spinner today, I would have batters coming at me from ball one but back then I was allowed to bowl.

“Players were scared of getting out. That was something we at Warwickshire were first to overcome in the ’90s. If you got caught at long-on, never mind, if it was the right shot.

“Middlesex were happy with 210 because, at Lord’s in September, you’d fancy yourself to bowl a team out for 180. But we were happy because, as long as we didn’t lose a clatter of early wickets we knew we’d stay in the game.”

After the Bears struggled to 26 for two, Angus Fraser dismissing Andy Moles and Alvin Kallicharran and Norman Cowans starting with six overs for just eight runs, the ship was steadied by captain Andy Lloyd (34, 71 balls) and Geoff Humpage (36, 78). Paul Smith (24, 25) and Dermot Reeve (42, 73) injected important impetus and 20 were needed when Smith joined Asif Din at the crease.

Was the youngster, waiting in the dressing-room, a bag of nerves? Or champing at the bit to get out there in front of the raucous Lord’s full house?

“I think part of us all wants to be the hero,” he said. “But another part just wants the team to win and if they can knock off 210 for none and you don’t have to do anything then great.

“I had scored a few runs in the quarter-final at Northampton and that century at Leeds the day before so I was confident when I went in.”

It all came down to ten from six balls, the first of which, to Din, was a yorker scrambled for a single. Nine off five.

Hughes to Smith.

And, 27 years later, many thousands of people who were either there at Lord’s or watching on television around the country vividly remember what happened next…

Royal London One-Day Cup Final Tickets

Tickets for the Royal London One-Day Cup Final are priced from £30-£50 for adults and at £5 for juniors, with Warwickshire Members and supporters allocated the Edrich Stand and the Lower Tier of the Mound Stand.

Please click here or call the Lord’s Ticket Office direct on 020 7432 1000 to purchase.