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Benson & Hedges Cup

A brief history

B&H winners

One of cricket's longest sponsorships - and the last one dependant on a tobacco company - came to an end in 2002 after 31 seasons. Established in 1972 in the wake of the success of the end-of-season 60-over competition and the resulting Sunday league, the B&H was always the League Cup final to the Gillette/NatWest's FA Cup. But, nevertheless, it was an immediate success, enjoying its heyday in the 1970s before settling down into comfortable middle-age in the 1980s. In its latter years it increasingly came under fire, critics arguing it was one competition too many and also attacking it for its rather clumsy system of zonal matches. The formatting was tinkered with several times but increasing legislation against tobacco advertising gave the authorities the chance to quietly kill the concept off.

In its defence, the B&H provided good income for the counties and some decent early-season entertainment. It also allowed non first-class sides to play against the big boys and, on occasion, beat them. In 1989 Combined Universities, led by Michael Atherton, came within a whisker of reaching the semi-finals, and eight years later Ireland pulled off a memorable win over Middlesex.

Benson & Hedges Cup winners
1972 Leicestershire beat Yorkshire by 5 wickets
1973 Kent beat Worcestershire by 39 runs
1974 Surrey beat Leicestershire by 27 runs
1975 Leicestershire beat Middlesex by 5 wickets
1976 Kent beat Worcestershire by 43 runs
1977 Gloucestershire beat Kent by 64 runs
1978 Kent beat Derbyshire by 6 wickets
1979 Essex beat Surrey by 35 runs
1980 Northamptonshire beat Essex by 6 runs
1981 Somerset beat Surrey by 7 wickets
1982 Somerset beat Nottinghamshire by 9 wickets
1983 Middlesex beat Essex by 4 runs
1984 Lancashire beat Warwickshire by 6 wickets
1985 Leicestershire beat Essex by 5 wickets
1986 Middlesex beat Kent by 2 runs
1987 Yorkshire beat Northamptonshire by losing fewer wickets
1988 Hampshire beat Derbyshire by 7 wickets
1989 Nottinghamshire beat Essex by 3 wickets
1990 Lancashire beat Worcestershire by 69 runs
1991 Worcestershire beat Lancashire by 65 runs
1992 Hampshire beat Kent by 41 runs
1993 Derbyshire beat Lancashire by 6 runs
1994 Warwickshire beat Worcestershire by 6 wickets
1995 Lancashire beat Kent by 35 runs
1996 Lancashire beat Northamptonshire by 31 runs
1997 Surrey beat Kent by 8 wickets
1998 Essex beat Leicestershire by 192 runs
1999 Gloucestershire beat Yorkshire by 124 runs
2000 Gloucestershire beat Glamorgan by 7 wickets
2001 Surrey beat Gloucestershire beat by 47 runs
2002 Warwickshire beat Essex by 5 wickets

Summary of County wins
4 - Lancashire 3 - Gloucestershire, Kent, Leicestershire, Surrey 2 - Essex, Hampshire, Middlesex, Somerset 1 - Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire

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