Northeast, who left Kent in rather acrimonious circumstances during the off-season, was roundly jeered by Kent supporters as he walked to the crease and again when he reached his half-century. Northeast would have the final say, however, as his unbeaten 75 off 60 balls helped propel Hampshire to a matchwinning total of 330 for 6.
But asked if he was happy with the treatment Northeast received, Billings said: “In a word, no. That’s not really cricket, I know it’s a cliché, but Sam’s a classy player, he showed that today. Of course whenever a player leaves a club there will be a bitterness but I don’t think that’s fair at all, really, to be very blunt. I don’t agree with it at all.
“It certainly gave the game an edge, everyone felt that in the ground. There was something bubbling there.”
James Vince, the Hampshire captain, praised Northeast’s calmness in the situation and believed it probably served to spur him on to produce a significant innings. Hampshire were strongly placed on 193 for 2 when he walked in, but Northeast’s innings ensured they didn’t miss out on posting a record total for a domestic Lord’s final even though they couldn’t quite scale the heights that looked possible at the 30-over mark.
“I said to Sam when we knew we were playing Kent in the final how good it would be for him to get a hundred against them,” Vince said. “He’s obviously played a big part in getting Kent to where they are now, so it’s perhaps slightly unfair but he was fired up to do well for us today.
“He’s a very calm man. There was no question that it wasn’t going to faze him. The players he played with have respect for him, the fans are entitled to their opinion and I think he’d respond well to that. It probably gave him the extra incentive to really contribute to us winning.”
The most significant innings of the day, however, belonged to Rilee Rossouw who hit 125 off 114 balls to earn the Man of the Match award. Rossouw, who joined Hampshire on a Kolpak deal last year, has not had everything run his way of late, having his front teeth knocked out during the semi-final against Yorkshire in a fielding mishap, and spent 80 minutes stuck in a lift at the team on the eve of the final, but was grateful that everything came together when it mattered.
“I’ll take all the bad luck in the world to win a final,” he joked. “I’m happy to relax in victory after two weeks in the wars. “I was stuck in the lift for 80 minutes in the hotel last night, on my own. “I was actually on my way down to see my wife and my little baby. So I wasn’t happy.
“And with my teeth, I dropped a catch in the semi-finals, it went straight through my hands, hit my front teeth, broke the front two right off and chipped a third. The front two are completely gone. I’ve got a good dentist though, so the credit goes to him.
“I’m very pleased with my performance today. I wanted this very badly and I’m so happy that the team pulled it off. It feels great to pay back the club for what they have invested in me, I’m very happy.”