By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE HAWKS progressed to the final of the 2022 Vitality Blast on Saturday afternoon as they beat Somerset by thirty-seven runs at Edgbaston, avenging their heart-breaking narrow two-wicket defeat against the exact same opposition last September, whilst winning their 1st semi since 2012. But it was nothing short of what the Hawks deserved from a blistering performance across the board with an imposing target set by the batsmen before fine bowling and fielding saw Somerset lose regular wickets; James Vince’s side never really in danger of losing during an entertaining encounter played out in temperatures reaching 26 degrees.
Electing to bat first it was a slow start from the Hawks as they were forced to wait eleven balls for an opening boundary; Ben McDermott lifting a cover drive over the slips for four. From this point the batters dominated the powerplay with the Australian hitting Peter Siddle for six before repeating the trick, whilst Vince looked good in a supporting but quickfire role as he hit four boundaries to move to twenty. But he was the first to fall as he sliced Roelof van der Merve in the fifth over, with McDermott hitting another maximum alongside two fours before being dismissed for 31; leaving Hampshire on 69-2 from the first six overs of their allocated 20.
Fielding changes and tighter length bowling did slow down the scoring rate as the innings neared midway, but Tom Prest and Joe Weatherley didn’t seem to mind as they rotated the strike with ones or twos alongside the occasional boundary. The pair added 48 runs in less than six overs with only four dot balls, Weatherley nailing a reverse sweep shot before being caught off Lewis Goldsworthy to leave the score on 116-3 in the twelfth. But any Somerset hopes of a collapse were thwarted by Prest and Whitely as the pair passed the 150 mark without relative fuss, although their initial 200+ run target began to slip against very tight bowling.
With three overs left to bat Whitely released the shackles as he hit a maximum, only to fall 4 balls later when he was caught attempting a similar shot on 171-4. But Prest was in fine nick and played a glorious straight drive alongside a huge maximum to surpass his 50 landmark; his misjudged shot on 64 seeing him caught after the ball looped in the air. And although a sixth wicket soon fell as new batsman Liam Dawson was run out in a confusing manner two balls later, Fuller had already ran seven off six to help the Hawks finish 190-6.
In response Somerset started with a few singles and a no-ball from Chris Wood allowed Will Smeed another opportunity in the 1st over, with his brilliant shot clearing the ropes for a huge maximum. This was followed up quickly by Tom Banton hitting another six in a strong start, which was flipped when Smeed was caught off at mid-off leaving his side on 20-1 in the third. And it got worse as Banton tried to run a frustrated single as he couldn’t get going, but couldn’t beat an outstanding throw from Mason Crane; the in-form opener departing for 12 as the batting side reached 46-2 off their six over powerplay struggling behind the required run rate.
Having hit two earlier maximums former Hampshire batsman Rilee Rossow became the third wicket to fall as he pinned a looping shot into the fielder’s hand, capping off a brilliant over from Fuller that saw just a single taken. And when Dawson only conceded four from the ninth over with the required run rate increasing, it left Somerset feeling pressure that was strengthened when Tom Abell was dismissed for 27; the score left on 97-4 in the thirteenth. In response Lewis Gregory hit eighteen off 12 balls in a flurry of runs with Tom Lammonby with some quick running, but when the latter was out caught off Brad Wheal the game looked all but over.
Another outstanding piece of fielding ended Cameron Green’s short innings as he scored just nine runs, with Lammonby continuing to look good as he led his side to the 150 mark with a brief acceleration that offered a minimal glimmer of hope. But Somerset’s fate was sealed as they lost their final four wickets for just 3 runs, Lammonby (34) the first as he was run out by Crane with ten balls left. Wood then bowled Goldsworthy (2), whilst Nathan Ellis completed the job, bowling both Jack Brooks and Siddle in successive yorker deliveries.
Victory ends a recent hoodoo for the Hawks in which they have lost their last five semi-finals in the shorter form Blast competition, but they won’t have time to celebrate with the showpiece final due to start at 6:45pm this evening as part of the annual ‘Finals Day’ schedule at Edgbaston. Vince’s side will be playing Lancashire Lighting who beat Yorkshire by six wickets in the first semi final earlier today, with both teams scoring 200+.
PICTURED BY REX FEATURES: Lammonby’s effort with bat and ball were not enough in Somerset loss.