Sunday, 12 September 2010

Leaving it late

It's fair to say that Hampshire have been involved in more than their fair share of nail biting Championship finishes this season, not all of them going our way either. Indeed the last match went against us in the last over, whilst our first win of the season came when McKenzie slapped a six with just 7 ball to spare. Great for the CC as a concept, not good for us nervy types. This match against Kent was no different, in fact I think it was even more nerve wrenching than the previous, given the context of the match. There were of course permutations that meant a draw in this match would mean that we would only need like 3 bonus points against Warwickshire to make Kent have to beat Yorkshire to stay up, or something.

However the main plan was to win the damn thing, and improve on our paltry win tally of two for the season. To win we had to bowl Kent out again, no mean feat as the pitch appeared to settle down through the third day and scoring became easier. To pull off a win, Hampshire would need accuracy, aggression and sustained pressure, as well as a few early wickets. The bowling attack, admittedly criticised by me on occasion managed to do the job with enough time to boil an egg. A single, perhaps underdone in some people's view, egg. The plan to utilise the spin in the wicket was apparent as Briggs came into the attack as the first change bowler.

Briggs and Vince combine to remove MVJ

Corky rose to the occasion, snapping up three wickets, including in my opinion the key wicket of Stevens, who attempted some shot that should never be seen of again in County Cricket. Ever. Nick Knight Jr hung around longer than first innings, ending up Kent's highest second innings scorer with 71 before the man of the moment, Tomlinson, trapped him in front. Chipping away at their lower order seemed to last an eternity, time and balls slipping away as tailender after tailender ate up some time in the middle before inevitably falling to one of the successful bowling triumvirate.

Cork appeals successfully for Jones' wicket

Bowling Carbs instead of Dawson was mind boggling and above all bloody frustrating, but it gave us more overs to play with, and in the end it proved decisive as Tommo was given the ball to send down an over with according to some reports just 5 minutes left in the match. The field was not exactly, umm, defensive, which proved crucial as a very close infielder, wearing the shirt of Adams clung on to a glanced short of a length ball from Tommo, leaving Cook, the number 11 to ponder what could have been. Hampshire? Well they were a bit pleased with the whole thing.

Stevens' horror hack ends his resistance

So it was Tommo that clinched the match, and it was Cork who picked up key wickets, but for me the most satisfying performance was that of Briggs. I doubted if he could step up on a day made for him - wickets on offer on a fourth day on a pitch conducive to spin. Seeing Blob Key dismissed with a flat fuller ball, and MVJ edge a beauty to a waiting Vince was all I needed to convince me that my doubts were very much misplaced. I've said it before but this kid is a bloody miracle and the wicket list goes to prove it. MVJ and Blob Key join an ever expanding collection of victims that includes di Venuto, Bopara, Blackwell, Trescothick, Chanderpaul, Goodwin and Maddy. Not bad for a year's work, and though Tahir will have the CC spinner's spot nailed on next year he is going to struggle to find his way into the 20/20 side.

Tredwell is given out caught behind

Cork and Tommo stepped up when it mattered, taking 7 wickets between them in the innings, as both take their season tallies into the 40s after this match. Certainly not the opening pair we were expecting at the start of the season, but both have performed admirably, Cork must take extra credit for playing his heart out day in, day out in all forms of the game for just about the entire season and the burden (or pleasure in Corky's case) of captaincy from July onwards. He has sat out just one match, the Leics CB40 match, since and will be well deserving of a break this time next week. Tommo? He marches on, bringing the ball back into the right handers at a decent pace and outrageous accuracy, celebrating everything like it's a trophy and just being pretty much the most liked member of the squad.

The moment Hampshire realise they've done it

The run cushion afforded to the bowlers, after the top order's hard work on the third day, was built on in the morning by the bowlers and superbly marshaled by Vince at 5. An extra 30 runs for himself, and an extra 58 runs for the team put the game out of Kent's reach, and tentatively into the hands of Hampshire. So Warwickshire await now in the final match of the season, Hampshire have nothing to play for but pleasingly are sticking with the same thirteen man squad that took on Kent. I think it is important for White to maintain continuity within the side even though circumstances have very much changed. Firstly it shows that we are still taking the game seriously, and secondly it tells the players that take to the field that we are not going to be letting up - a healthy amount of pressure to keep the professionalism and competitiveness present within the side.


  1. "Tahir will have the CC spinner's spot nailed on next year"

    If that happens I will bloody run amok

  2. Briggs is the total man, Jimmy 84+52.
    Fascinating how the batters all chipped in in the second innings.
    I am blaing.
    Was sitting nearly under the chair during the last overs. The nature of the world (and of most county teams) is it not to be able to mop up the tail under pressure. Tommo did it. The way Hamps managed to steadily munch their way through the batters and Kent permitted Hamps to perforate them was unbelievable. Wish Middle had the ability to slice through a tail like this. But. There is always a next season.


    ~ Play For Country Not For Self ~