|Macca sweeps on his way to a controlled 51*|
There is always the danger, after a fantastic trophy victory, of a hangover that badly affects another competition. This can not be made clearer by Hampshire's performance last season, losing the 20/20 quarter final to an average Northants side a few days after the FPT Final at Lord's. Two days after the magical win on home turf in the 20/20, 8 of the XI that beat Somerset turned out to play Leics in a must win match in the CB40. Ervine was rested whilst Razzaq and Christian were of course unavailable. This opened the door for a whole batch of young guns to take to the field, lead as ever by a becalmed Dominic Cork. Eight of the team have come through the Hampshire academy, whilst seven of them were aged 22 or younger. Bates, Vince, Wood and Briggs all kept their places, with Dawson, Riazuddin and debutant Benny Howell coming into the side. For all the youth, energy and potential of the Hampshire team, it was of course the two old stooges that secured the vital two points. McKenzie has been everything we could have wished for and more at Hampshire this season. Calm, helpful, friendly and above all an absolute run machine, it was with great delight to read this evening that we have offered Macca a new contract for next season. It would be a great testimony to the culture nurtured at the club by Chalky, Mascarenhas, Cork et al to convince a test quality batsman to sign on again.
When Macca came out to bat, Hampshire were in a spot of bother at 45-2 in search of 177 to win from 35 overs. The man he replaced, Vince, had played extremely well, striking some beautiful fours before getting out lbw to Malik. Though disappointing he couldn't go on, Vince's cameo was pleasing as he looked in much better touch than he has done for the past few weeks. Howell batted like he was on debut. Which he was. Actually he looked very solid getting bat behind ball, just that he didn't really play a shot in anger - after 12 overs he was 11*. However it must have been a great experience for him finally being out in the middle for the full Hampshire side. His bowling was more than decent, and reminded me of the bowling of Durham's Ben Stokes - not the greatest pace by a good action to get the ball down the pitch and hurry the batsmen. Got a wicket too! So all in all a good first outing, despite the collision with Carbs. Carbs for his part took a good jumping catch, and after a slow start with the bat, began cutting ruthlessly. His dismissal was contentious, and I don't think anyone bar the umpire were convinced that he had edged a Naik ball. This left Hampshire 4 down with 90 odd on the board, but in came Dawson at 6, back in the side and looking so much better for it. He batted with the enthusiasm, the determination and the technique that had made him such a key component of the 2008 Pro40 team. I hope Chalky takes note of this game, as Dawson batting at 6 with a few overs under his belt looked a different man to the specialist batsman tasked with coming in at 3 in the Championship. Though of course the game looked safe as long as McKenzie was in, Dawson's positivity turned the game in Hampshire's favour as he upped the scoring rate, as well as pressurising the fielders by finding twos. By the time he departed, caught on the boundary at square leg, under 30 runs were required with around 6 or 7 overs to spare. Wood fell first ball in a failed experiment at 7, but Riazuddin did everything but hit the winning runs, batting with a technique similar to Pothas, carving a number of fours. He then fell with 3 needed, and Bates was in at number 9. A single from him and McKenzie tied the scores, but a slight inside edge off of Malik removed Bates' leg stump. Corky obviously didn't want to bat this game, but came in at number 10 and didn't have to lay bat on ball as his first ball went down the legside for 4 wides, Hampshire won by 2 wickets and McKenzie was 51*. Buck the pick of the bowlers, removing both Adams and Howell for just 16 runs from 7 overs. Malik ended with 4 wickets.
|An agricultural innings from Riazuddin sealed the victory|
So overall it was a very healthy performance from a young Hampshire side. Often we have seen sides play the youngsters and to be honest they have played poorly, but the difference I think with this Hampshire team was that all of the young members, Howell aside, have played plenty of cricket for the county already, as well as playing alongside each other in the academy. Yes they are young but they have also tasted major success, 5 of them have won trophies, combined six of them have played 68 FC games, 82 one dayers, 92 20/20s and they've grown up in an environment dominated by the professionalism of the likes of Adams, Carberry, Lumb, Ervine and Tomlinson who are all around 8 to 10 years older. Combine that with the wise (?) heads of Cork, McKenzie, Pothas and Mascarenhas and it is a very potent combination. If contract negotiations go our way then this mix can be kept together longer and developed further, and if the opinions of Cork and McKenzie are present in the changing room for another season at least, then success will hopefully be forthcoming.
Photos courtesy of Wes