Rapids defeated in fifty-over opener

By Connor Steel

HAMPSHIRE CRICKET opened their Royal London One Day campaign with victory over Worcestershire on Friday afternoon, beating the so-called Rapids by a 44 run margin in humid conditions at the Ageas Bowl. It was an encounter that saw both teams fail to complete their innings as all twenty wickets fell; the only single half century coming from Ed Barnard in an brilliantly mastered unbeaten eighty-five that sadly proved in vain.

Worcestershire started well with the new ball and took their first wicket after four overs, home captain Nick Gubbins (6) dismissed by Joe Leach caught in the deep. Tom Prest (17) and Aneurin Donald (16) steadied the ship scoring double single figures before being dismissed in a five over spell; Barnard and Ben Gibbon dismissing the young batters to leave the score on 51-3 in the fifteenth over of bowling on a bouncing pitch.

These two dismissals brought Ben Brown and Fletcha Middleton to the crease, the pair milking quick runs to maintain a steady rate against a relatively new ball before adding a series of boundaries. They scored 85 in  just eighteen overs including eight fours with both batsmen ultimately out before reaching their half centuries; Brown (47) caught off Taylor Cornall’s delivery and Middleton (49) becoming Leach’s second wicket at 145-5.

Felix Organ made a quick start with two boundaries over fine leg in his 17 runs, his loosely-hit shot proving difficult to control as he was caught off Leach for the bowlers third and final wicket. Ian Holland soon joined him back in the pavilion for eight off fourteen deliveries as he became the Rapids’ captain Jake Libby’s sole dismissal of the innings to leave the score 141-7 with 9 overs left to bowl as Hampshire looked at a target.

And the Rapids were set 237 to win from fifty overs thanks in part to Scott Currie; the all-rounder hitting forty-three off 27 deliveries including seven fours all over the pitch. But he ran out of partners as a score of 250+ looked possible at one point; Toby Albert (19) joining two quickfire ducks in John Turner and Jack Campbell as Hampshire’s innings was wrapped up with three balls remaining from their allocated fifty overs of batting.

Not that the Rapids started brilliantly in their response as they were reduced to 10-2 in just the third over; Ed Pollock being dismissed by Holland for five and Currie trapping Azhar Ali leg-before for a four ball duck. Both slow run scoring and regular wickets seemed to damage the away team as they were reduced to 29-4 just six overs later; Holland quickly removing Libby (8) and Gareth Roderick (2) alongside two straight maidens.

Scores soon became 37-5 as Turner had Kashi Ali caught in the deep from Prest for nine runs; bringing both Barnard and Cornall to the crease with Hampshire seeking a huge victory. But the Rapids’ pair did brilliantly to deny any immediate sixth wicket with some defensive strokes off the pitch; the two scoring ten runs in just five overs as they sought to give their side some respectability with the required run rate increasing quickly.

Combining boundaries with quick boundaries the pair brought up the 100 mark before achieving their century partnership off twenty-three overs of batting; Bernard reaching his fifty off 72 balls. The pairing then passed the club record partnership for the sixth wicket and extended this to 130 runs before two quick dismissals; Organ removing Cornall for forty three and trapping Leach LBW to leave his side on 175-7 after 42 overs.

Turner got his second wicket just nine deliveries later as he drew a late edge behind from Henry Cullen (3) caught by Brown, whilst Bernard added two further boundaries in the 44th over as he remained his side’s main hope of winning. But the top scorer ran out of partners as Currie helped seal his man-of-the-match display and victory for the hosts; taking both wickets of Adam Finch and Gibbon in successive deliveries.

Hampshire sit third behind Glamorgan and Lancashire in Group B of the fifty-over competition, although they have a game in hand over their rivals having played just one game. This will become three by Tuesday as they travel to Beckenham for their away clash versus Kent on Sunday before hosting Northamptonshire on the Isle of Wight two days later; both matches due to start at 11am promptly with tosses half an hour before.

PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE CRICKET: Players celebrate taking key wicket in home win over the Rapids.