Monday, 26 July 2010

Up and running again in the CB40

I'll admit I had half an eye on this match and the other one and a half pieces of eye on that game up in Edgbaston to be played 24 hours later. Not that this one didn't matter, it's just that QF's tend to be a bit more important than group games, hence the chronological order found in all knockout tournaments. Either way the game was not a complete non-starter as it provided Hampshire with a chance to iron a few things out before the big game. The team selected was that picked by me in the last blog (not difficult, picking 11 out of 12, mind). But it was good to see Lumb return to partner Adams at the top of the order. Riazuddin was in too as the only changes from the Sussex 20/20 game (DC and Razzaq both sat out because they weren't qualified). Anyway Kent stand in captain MVJ won the toss and put Hampshire in on an apparently difficult wicket. Thankfully unlike the last time Lumb played Kent, he wasn't killed first ball by Stevens, and actually scored runs, Adams too but at a slow pace. The old pair got Hants up to 48 before Adams was out, which brought Vince to the crease. One criticism of Vince, which has been well made elsewhere is his inability to build on a good start (save that 90 odd against Essex last year). In a way he did that this match but a score of 49 off 55 given the conditions constitutes a decent enough effort. Lumb meanwhile actually got to 50, his first I think for Hampshire in all competitions this season (!!) but in a sort of snapshot of his season he was out next ball stumped charging Tredwell. Vince was out too so Macca and Carberry set about getting Hampshire up towards a decent enough score. A pretty varied Kent attack saw Amjad Khan yet again be played whilst clearly not fit, managing just a few overs. Azhar and Stevens seemed to have bowled decently without reward, Tredwell the only bowler to do decently with 3 wickets. Coles also picked up 3 but that was thanks to the customary late innings whack-it. Macca and Carbs both scored decently, without being spectacular and without reaching 50s. Slug entered the stage centre and belted a 6 and a 4 before being caught out in the deep. A bit of comedy followed as Riazuddin was runout by Cork without facing, and Hampshire finished on 238-7.

To be honest it seemed not enough at this stage. Translated into 50 over stuff would be 290 odd, which seems like a very decent score indeed but in the 40 over stuff anything below 250 is quite difficult to defend unless you are playing at Derby or Worcester or somewhere mediocre. I actually missed a lot of the first innings then the commentary feed seemed to break for me so I resorted to following the Hants man on Twitter with his updates and occasional snippets of life at a game he's at and I'm not. It would be perhaps naive and even fantastic to think that Cork's assault on Bob Key's hand in the CC match was a roughing up exercise to put the willies on the Kent players for this game. Of course that is nonsense, we thumped them then and we could do it again, early wickets the key as with every single chase ever to have occurred in the history of cricket. Kent opened with eternal listing opener Denly, and Nick Knight Jnr, Northeast. Cork and Wood started economically, then Northeast's hopes went 135 degrees clockwise as he edged Cork behind to baby Bates, standing in his second game since Pothas thought it would be funny to do what Dimi does and sit out the season. 17-1 I think the score in the 5th over, and MVJ, not Jones, joined Denly. Now, I've always been a big fan of MVJ, partly for a number of reasons - he's good friends with Pothas, his stance looks like he's about to fell a tree, plus he scores runs in a nice way. However I was most definitely not wanting to be his mate as he took to the Hampshire bowlers not exactly with violence but in a controlled, positive manner that makes your heart sink as an opposition fan. Both brought up 50s, then the Kent 150 as a glance at the score read 151-1. Worst thing was, even Briggs wasn't making any inroads. The attack seemed one paced and Cork tried something different by giving the ball to Carberry. 2 overs for 18 made Cork go back to the other bowlers, and it was Briggs who made the all important breakthrough. It could be argued that getting out Trescothick in your debut first class match gives you a bit of a long term boost, and this seems to be the case for Briggs. No batsman has a reputation big enough for the 19 year old islander to worry about, and MVJ was no exception as Briggs clean bowled him for 73 and the team score on 153. At this point my thoughts were along the lines of at least it won't be a 9 wicket loss. The rate was around 8 an over though so it wasn't going to be an easy run in for Kent and the not out Denly who looked well set.

Geraint Jones was is at 4 but didn't last amazingly long as the required run rate continued to increase. Cork brought himself back on and removed Jones, caught by McKenzie in the covers. What followed was the key phase of the game, as Denly was joined by the season-long in-form Darren Stevens. After ruining us twice in the 20/20 last year, we seem to have the rub on Stevens this season as what could have been an explosive, game sealing knock turned out to be a lethal blow for the Spitfires. Stevens was restricted to 6 from 7 balls with no boundaries before trying to counter attack against Cork. However he was dismissed by a fantastic Bates catch, stood up to Cork.

The key dismissal - Stevens goes © Sarah Ansell

Azhar was next man in as Denly went in search of his century and victory for Kent. By the end of the 36th over the equation was 47 runs from 24 balls, but a 17 and a 13 run over got the required run rate down to 10 per over for the last two. Cork entrusted the penultimate over to Danny Briggs, after Wood had bowled out, and Ervine had gone for 47 from 7 overs. Riazuddin had one over left (0-32 from 7), but the faith was put in the spinner. It paid off brilliantly too as just 7 runs were scored to leave Denly on 99* and Kent on 226-4. Cork kindly gave himself the last over, but a single by Denly to bring up his century was followed next ball by a four to Azhar as 8 were needed from 3 balls. Crucially just 3 runs were scored from the next two balls leaving effectively a 6 to be scored by Denly to win the game. However, as if he had around 20 years of experience behind him, Cork didn't offer up a tasty delivery as the batsmen could only amble through for two, sealing their own defeat and a slightly suprising victory for the surviving members of the Hampshire squad.

Overall the performance was a decent one, if not entirely spectacular given the pitch (apparently there was some uneven bounce) the score was respectable, and while the wicket taking column wasn't as full as it could have been, the bowlers held their nerve, with Cork only really letting up by giving Carberry two overs for 18 against the set pair. Lumb will be pleased with his 50 but I'm not convinced it was enough to get him opening with Adams for the Warwickshire game. Yes it was Hampshire's highest score but it just seemed unfulfilling, like getting a nice roast dinner but the potatoes are a bit lukewarm. Can't argue with the meat (50), but it just didn't seem as good as it could have been. We will see though as White will have to decide if he is going to go for the same XI that thumped Sussex. Adams, Vince, McKenzie and Carberry will all be disappointed that they could not build on starts, though Adams' start was particularly frustrating. I suspect Vince will be fairly pleased with his 49 as his scoring hasn't been the greatest recently in the 20/20, but even so the 50 was there for the taking. Slug will be hoping for a better day against Warwickshire as though the batting was violent, 13 from 9 runs signals intent but not success. Cork really stood up as a bowler and a leader, and he takes to pressure with a slightly childish glint in his eye. Riazuddin bowled decently without a wicket on his return to the first team, Wood also. Briggs again impressed with the wicket of MVJ and then the tight 39th over. He'll be hoping to build on this further for the QF. Bates had another fine game behind the stumps, taking two catches, one a ripper shown in the picture above. His ability to stand up to even Cork (though he has lost a little pace) is very impressive, and I can only remember a handful of occasions where Pothas has done the same. It adds that extra bit of pressure to the batting side, and two talked about catches in two games is pretty much as good as you can ask for from a keeper. No byes given away either which is also reflective on the game he had.

So, overall the performance was solid, with perhaps a touch of daring do and chance. To be honest the game did seem lost when Denly and MVJ were set. However I don't think that Denly's management of the game was particularly great, only being able to score 102 whilst carrying your bat in a 40 over match is perhaps a bit conservative, and he didn't really have the players around him scoring quickly enough (Azhar aside) to play the type of innings in terms of scoring rate that he did. It was a good century yes but I think Kent would have been happier with an 80 at better than a run a ball than 102 from 109 balls. Still, that's something for them to work on, not Hampshire and so it's onto the quarter final in Birmingham. Bell and Trott are both out of the team, though apparently the 4 games Trott played in the group stages, Warwickshire lost. It will be tough, but I don't really envy Sussex, Lancashire or Northants for having to visit Nottingham, Taunton and Chelmsford respectively. Do we have a chance of making it to Finals Day? I'd be a pessimistic S.O.B for thinking we don't. We have the players to win the game and we have to 'form' to do just that as well. It will be close, but it will be by no means an easy game, for either side. 

1 comment:

  1. It was a drama especially after Sluggy had messed up his last over. I was nearly in tears then. But then Babybriggs stepped up and then Dominic Corker killed them off. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

    BTW concerning the radio, I've had no problems with it using the media player link below the player, this seems a lot more stable.

    Tonight!!! *wields fist*


    ~ Play For Country Not For Self ~