Despite a great start with the ball, Hampshire Hawks were unable to capitalise, eventually going down in last night’s white ball season opener by 10 runs at The Ageas Bowl. Despite losing three early wickets, Middlesex opener Max Holden and middle order batsman Jack Davies were able to steady the ship. Subsequently, 41 runs off just 27 balls from wicketkeeper-batsman John Simpson eased the visitors to what would prove to be an unassailable 163/6.
Early breakthroughs for Hampshire reduced Middlesex to 15/3 early in the third over with both of Hampshire’s overseas players immediately called into action.
First, Aussie Nathan Ellis caught Middlesex captain Stevie Eskinazi on the boundary. Eskinazi, trying to cut Brad Wheal got a little too much air on it and Ellis sprang to his right to take a great catch on the run.
Ben McDermott was next to make his mark. The wicketkeeper had time to make himself a cup of tea and fetch some biscuits from the cupboard while waiting for Joe Cracknell’s dreadful leg side hook to descend from the heavens.
When Hampshire’s experienced left arm seamer, Chris Wood, beat Martin Andersson for pace – taking the bails off in the process – Middlesex might have been fearing the worst.
Max Holden and Jack Davies clearly hadn’t been reading that particular script and started the fightback. A combination of creative batting and loose bowling from Mason Crane and Nathan Ellis saw the visitors through to 91 before Holden was stumped smartly by McDermott for 40.
Approaching an impressive fifty, the twenty-two-year-old Jack Davies kissed goodbye to his middle stump while attempting to reverse Nathan Ellis. Nevertheless, this was Davies’ best knock in a T20 match to date, and but for trying to be a little bit too ambitious he might have been claiming his first half-century in professional T20 cricket.
Hampshire tightened up in the field after that but Middlesex had already fought their way back into a decent position. Simpson made a quick 41 off just 26 deliveries paving the way for Middlesex to post 163/6 after their twenty overs.
The Hampshire innings started slowly before Ben McDermott found his rhythm. The top scorer in the Big Bash with 577 runs, McDermott was perhaps guilty of trying to be a little too aggressive to Toby Roland-Jones early on. The slow start forced Hampshire into trying to pick up the pace.
Although both McDermott and Aneurin Donald looked settled, they were both caught out playing attacking shots. McDermott went for 28 off 21 balls, registering three fours and two sixes in the process. Had he remained at the crease beyond the power play, Hampshire might have got closer to the Middlesex total.
Joe Weatherley fell for just 10 runs but can consider himself unlucky as his well struck pull shot carried to Holden at deep mid-wicket. When Dawson went for a duck soon after, trapped LBW by Luke Hollman, Hampshire were rocking on 58-4. On reflection, Hollman’s first over proved decisive.
Although debutant Ross Whitely accelerated the run rate, he was dismissed for 27 just as it looked like things were swinging in Hampshire’s favour.
Captain James Vince and big hitting James Fuller fell two short of a 50 partnership and when Vince fell just shy of his individual half-century the writing was on the wall for the Hawks. With 14 runs required off 7 deliveries, Vince launched a drive out to deep mid-on where Chris Green took a straight forward catch.
Martin Andersson and Toby Roland-Jones bowled superbly at the death to see Middlesex home but Hampshire will rue missed opportunities to seize the initiative.
Next up for Middlesex in the Vitality Blast is Glamorgan on Sunday. Hampshire will be hoping for a better outcome when they take on Somerset here at The Ageas on Monday.