Under cobalt skies, Hampshire prevailed in a war of attrition at the Ageas Bowl last night. In conditions more suitable for a rugby match than a game of cricket, Hampshire batted well to post a defendable total in the almost constant drizzle. In response, Essex were unable to chase the runs down in deteriorating weather.
The latest instalment of the ‘battle of the birds’ started with Hampshire winning the toss and electing to bat. This would prove to be a prudent decision by captain, James Vince, with conditions for batting destined to get worse as the night went on.
James Vince’s openers made a steady start despite losing Ben McDermott (2) cheaply in the second over. Ben Allison’s tempting outswinger proved irresistible enough and McDermott duly obliged with an outside edge through to the keeper.
The overcast and damp conditions were causing the ball to swing and the pitch had enough in it to encourage the seam bowlers. Consequently, Hampshire made a cautious start.
By the end of the powerplay, the Eagles had restricted Hampshire to 39/1. Tight bowling, particularly from Sam Cook whose first two overs went for just 8 runs, kept the Hawks openers at bay.
When Tim Prest (30) fell in the 8th over to all-rounder Matt Critchley, caught at deep mid-wicket by Ben Allison, Hampshire were building a slow but stable platform.
James Vince was the first to really open his shoulders, pulling Nijjar over deep mid-wicket for a maximum in the seventh over. He would eventually fall for 44 runs when he pulled Critchley straight to Allison at deep mid wicket where he gratefully pouched his second catch of the night.
The next wicket to fall was not without controversy. Ross Whiteley (4) was fairly caught by Pepper on the boundary rope after some impressive juggling. Confusingly, the umpire signalled for a six but later changed his mind, giving Whiteley out. The replay was inconclusive.
James Fuller (2) was bowled by Critchley in the seventeenth over trying to cut the Essex all-rounder square but failing to make contact with the ball in the process.
Joe Weatherley was the last of the Hampshire batters to fall. After scoring 38 runs off 26 balls, Weatherley holed out to Pepper off Allison before Toby Albert closed out the innings with a lightning 24 off 12 balls.
Hampshire finished their innings with 155/6, probably about par in those conditions. Matt Critchley and Ben Allison both finished with three wickets apiece. Critchley’s 3-25 was his best of this season in this year’s Blast.
In reply, Essex struggled to get going and Khushi (11) fell when swinging at fresh air, losing his off-stump to the resurgent Fuller’s straight ball.
In worsening conditions, Essex scratched their way to 30/1 at the end of the powerplay and when in the very next over, Rossington (13) tried to force Fuller – he succeeded only in launching the ball straight down the throat of Liam Dawson at long on.
Mason Crane compounded the Eagles’ misery when he got Michael Pepper (10) caught and bowled. Pepper, coming forward tried to work the ball down the leg side but could only succeed in popping a leading edge back to the grateful bowler.
Matt Critchley (14) failed to make a lasting impact and fell to Fuller in the eleventh over when he was caught smartly by Joe Weatherley on the boundary.
Paul Walter (27) was steadily rebuilding the Essex innings when he was caught at deep mid-wicket by Tom Prest off a jubilant Liam Dawson.
The South African, Simon Harmer (8) fell on the second ball of Fuller’s fourth over. Harmer was beaten for pace by Fuller’s yorker and lost his off stump. James Fuller would finish with 4 wickets for 30 runs.
Tom Westley (19) was also bowled, falling to Chris Wood’s pitched up ball, while trying to heave one across the line.
Brad Wheal capped off a good night with the ball for Hampshire when he got Nijjar (8) caught behind and bowled Allison (0) both in the penultimate over.
Wood finished the match off in style when he knocked over Sam Cook’s (1) leg stump as the Essex bowler went walkabout at the crease.
Essex finished 123 all out. Hampshire won by 32 runs.
Last night’s result, Hampshire’s third win in a row, has catapulted the Hawks up the South Group table into fifth place. Essex, on the other hand, have stalled somewhat, winning just one of their last four. The Eagles will be looking anxiously over their shoulder as the improving Hawks move to within a point of them in the table.
- 28 BR McDermott†
- 14 JM Vince*
- 24 TJ Prest
- 5 JJ Weatherley
- 15 TE Albert
- 4 RA Whiteley
- 26 JK Fuller
- 8 LA Dawson
- 25 CP Wood
- 32 MS Crane
- 58 BTJ Wheal
- 23 FIN Khushi
- 17 AM Rossington†
- 19 MS Pepper
- 20 MJJ Critchley
- 22 PI Walter
- 21 T Westley
- 11 SR Harmer*
- 29 S Snater
- 24 ASS Nijjar
- 65 BMJ Allison
- 16 SJ Cook