Hawks lose tight Surrey encounter to start T20 Blast

By Connor Steel

HAMPSHIRE HAWKS opened their 2024 Vitality Blast campaign with defeat as they hosted ‘pre-tournament’ favourites Surrey on Thursday evening; the visiting team eventually sealing a five wicket victory in the final over at the Utilita Bowl as they sealed revenge for their record-breaking County Championship innings defeat on this same pitch last weekend.

Surrey started brillantly after choosing to field and took their first wicket within four balls; Spencer Johnson bowling Ben McDermott (0) for a duck. It got better for the away fielders as James Vince (9) was caught at first slip before Ali Orr (9) saw a shot into the hands of a fielder to leave Hampshire on 23-3 in the fifth over; the latter also suffering an arm injury.

Joe Weatherley and Toby Albert launched the recovery as they hit sixty-two runs in just 41 balls; the former flicking Tom Curran to midwicket as he fell for 33. James Fuller hit six runs before he was caught out by Sean Abbott before Albert’s innings was ended on fourty-six to become Curran’s second victim; thus leaving the Hawks on 115-6 after fifteen overs.

Liam Dawson hit two maximums as he added thirty runs to push the Hawks past 150-6, but this did soon become 153-8 when he fell alongside Benny Howell (11) in just three balls. Gus Atkinson then took this ninth wicket in the final over as he removed Chris Wood (1) as the bowlers restricted the batting side to an under-par score of 162-9 in their innings.

In response Surrey grinded their way through eight balls before losing their first wicket; Dan Laurence (3) slicing behind off Michael Neser’s bouncer to make it 10-1. But a partnership between Laurie Evans (34) and Jason Roy (21) stopped any early collapse during the powerplay; both hitting a combination of finely timed shots and boundaries over six overs.

Evans and Ollie Pope (3) then fell for the batters as they slipped from 53-1 to 63-3 in the ninth over: which left Roy and Jamie Smith (30) at the crease to push towards the hundred mark. And this pair did exactly this with many fours / sixes before they sadly departed in quick succession; leaving Surrey on 100-5 and offering the hosts a chance of this victory.

Curran however had another idea and smashed two huge maximums to release this pressure on Surrey, before hitting 2 further boundary shots on his way to thirty-seven not out from twenty balls. He was brilliantly supported by the efforts of Jordan Clark, who added an unbeaten 21 as the partnership completed a big away victory with four balls remaining.

The Hawks will be disappointed at this defeat in front of a loud crowd but there are also some positives to take from the match; including the efforts of Toby Albert and their recovery from a very difficult position. They will look to bounce back quickly in the competition on Sunday (June 2), where they host Kent Spitfires in their ‘second match’ starting from 1pm.

PICTURED BY SURREY CRICKET: Away bowler lets a delivery fly down the crease as Hampshire batter ‘watches on’.