Having scored the run that ended Somerset's 14-year wait for a major trophy, James Hildreth admitted to feeling an unusual mixture of emotions. Delight at his side having secured the Royal London Cup, overcoming 2018 winners Hampshire by six wickets, mixed with relief and surprise at not coming second-best once again; as well as a "bittersweet" sense that he and his Somerset team-mates may be the last to experience the feeling of winning a domestic limited-overs final at Lord's.
From next season, the 50-over tournament is set to run alongside The Hundred, and the addition of the ECB's new format to an already crowded schedule means List A cricket is likely to be downgraded to "development" status. With the final also moving to Trent Bridge, Somerset's victory on a sun-kissed afternoon at Lord's looks set to mark the end of an era in English one-day cricket.
"We thought about it to be honest, it's kind of bittersweet," Hildreth said. "Because it's great we got the opportunity to play in it, but it's sad in a way because you want other guys to experience it in the future. It's such a big history, especially with our club, legends winning one-day trophies and images of them playing here. So it's special for us but frustrating that more guys potentially can't experience it in the future.
"It seems like it will be a very different tournament with The Hundred coming in. We don't know how everything's going to look at the moment but you're getting your best players go off and play in The Hundred, and what the one-day tournament will look like … it's bound to be weakened because the best players won't be playing it. So that'll be frustrating but time will tell because nobody really knows what's going on next year."
While Somerset enjoyed several successful trips to Lord's in the 1970s and '80s, winning the Gillette Cup and its successor the NatWest Trophy, as well as twice lifting the Benson & Hedges Cup, they have more recently been associated with near misses, finishing as runners-up in all three major competitions over the last decade. Hildreth is old enough that he played in the 2005 Twenty20 Cup final victory - hitting the winning runs on that occasion, too - and he was grateful for finally being able to add to that title.
"It was a frustratingly long time ago, to be honest, it feels like we should have had a few more in between," he said. "I'm so glad we got over the line today, I'm really pleased for the boys especially the young lads, some of their first experiences of a being in a final and to come away with the right result is great for them and hopefully a platform for us to kick on."
Hildreth, who recently set an appearances record for Somerset across the formats, showed his experience to finish off the job but it was two of the club's young talents in Jamie Overton and Tom Banton who provided the platform. Overton was named Man of the Match for his three-wicket burst that knocked the stuffing out of the Hampshire innings, while Banton then proceeded to demonstrate why he is so highly rated with a run-a-ball 69 to calm any nerves around chasing.
"I absolutely loved it [being out there at the end], it's why you play, for those kind of moments," Hildreth said. "You want to win trophies with your mates and that's exactly what happened today. The first half we did well, the bowlers restricted them - we always felt they were under par at the halfway stage. We were pretty confident with chasing it but you always want to get off to a good start. Tom Banton has impressed the whole tournament and it was great he could showcase his talents today in the final.
"Relief [was the feeling at the end]. Strange, because it was like 'Wow, we won!' It was quite bizarre but it was great, we've been bridesmaids for so many years. We've all seen the support in the stands, they come around everywhere with us, we've got the best support in the country, so it's great to do it for them."
As for ending an even longer wait, Hildreth was cautiously optimistic that the club would be able to sustain their challenge in the Championship. Somerset, who have never won the pennant, currently sit top of Division One with three wins from four, although they saw Lewis Gregory (side) and Josh Davey (quad) pick up injuries at Lord's. While the club may not have the same depth as other squads, they have the following week off and there is likely to be renewed vigour when they resume four-day competition against Surrey at Guildford on June 3.
"We're playing well, coming off the back of a few wins - a few different players coming into the Championship team but we're playing good cricket. There's no reason why we can't keep winning games and push on in all three competitions."