Radlett victory leads Hawks recovery

By Connor Steel

HAMPSHIRE HAWKS continued their recent recovery in the Vitality Blast on Tuesday afternoon as they made it two successive wins in the competition, beating Middlesex by nine wickets in the sunshine. With an earlier start time and excellent all-round performance, Hampshire restricted the hosts to a modest total that was easily chased down at Radlett in just twelve overs; openers James Vince and Ben McDermott doing the damage with the bat as they built on Saturday night’s home win over the Sussex Sharks in Southampton.

Having elected to bowl first on a dry surface, Hampshire’s opening bowlers were tight in the powerplay and took their first wicket in the fourth over; Chris Wood removing home captain Stevie Eskinazi for 21 runs off thirteen balls after the opener had smashed Scott Currie for two successive leg-side maximums. And two overs later another wicket fell as Joe Cracknell edged to slip off Currie’s spinning delivery for three, leaving Middlesex on 44-2 off six overs as crowds began to grow within the Radlett stands after a slow opening.

But opener Max Holden was still at the crease and set about hitting five boundaries in his innings of thirty-five runs, batting alongside Hollman in a brief partnership that yielded 25 to reach 70-2 in the tenth over. However this start never flourished as both these batsmen were dismissed by James Fuller and Liam Dawson in just six balls, whilst John Simpson was further sent back to the pavilion by the spinner for four runs to make the score 80-5 following a bowler-dominated spell during a crucial period in this close match.

Middlesex had gone thirty-four balls without a single boundary and frustration was growing amongst the home batters, Dawson picking up his third wicket for just 14 runs as he deceived Chris Davis with a leggy delivery that smashed into the stumps. This cluster of wickets brought Jack Davis (34) and Martin Andersson (25*) together at the crease, the pair launching a counter attack in the final five overs. Forty-eight runs were added in the partnership including three fours and two sixes, their fun only ended with the final delivery as Davis was trapped LBW off Brad Wheal; the innings finishing with Middlesex reaching 142-7 off their overs.

Chasing a manageable 143 to win it was a slow first over for the Hawks with just two runs scored, but this didn’t matter as Vince released the shackles in the second; hitting Thilan Walallawita’s first two deliveries over the infield for four and six to really set the tone. McDermott quickly joined in the fun as he smashed his Australian teammate Jason Behrendorff for two sixes in an over, before adding another couple of maximums on the off-side as the visitors hit over fifty runs in just five overs to make them favourites after the powerplay.

But the Hawks’ onslaught didn’t stop there as McDermott hit another two boundaries to reach his half century in just twenty balls, Hollman being hit for eighteen from just six balls as no mercy was offered. Vince further backed up his partner by hitting his own series of boundaries including two straight sixes off a leg spinner as Hampshire reached 100 runs in just the eighth over as they attempted to improve their net-run-rate in the South Group following their four previous defeats at the beginning of this short-form cricket competition.

The visitors progressed to 132 without loss in just nine and a half overs, the brilliant partnership seeing ten fours and eleven sixes with every bowler struggling to control their line against the in-form openers. But it wasn’t to be a perfect flourish as they lost their only wicket with just eleven runs required as Eskinazi made a sharp catch to remove McDermott; the Australian departing for 83 off just thirty balls at a rate of nearly three runs per ball. Accompanied by Tom Prest (3*) it was left to Vince to complete the job, a task that was soon completed with two successive boundaries as Hampshire smashed their target with eight overs left to play.

Following other results in the competition on Monday and Tuesday, Hampshire’s latest win means they stay 8th in the South Group after six games; furthermore remaining three points off a potential quarter final place with a far inferior net run rate that remains in negative figures. Two more Blast matches await the Hawks this week before they return to first class action on Sunday as they host the Essex Eagles in Southampton this Thursday evening (7pm start) and then travel to Glamorgan on Friday night starting at 6:30pm in Cardiff.

PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE CCC: Big shot played as Middlesex fielder stands helplessly in the outfield.