By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET stretched their perfect Group B record to five games in the Royal London One-Day Cup on Sunday afternoon, beating Lancashire by two wickets in a low scoring encounter at the Ageas Bowl to further cement their quarter final spot. Neither side succeeded in scoring two hundred runs as their batters struggled with a mixture of hot conditions and a slow outfield, despite Toby Albert’s second successive fifty to edge his side over the line after Jack Turner’s maiden five-for as he dismantled a fragile Red Rose top order.
Having elected to bat first Lancashire were quickly in disarray as they were reduced to 7-3 after just the 5th over, Turner drawing thin edges from Keaton Jennings (0) and Josh Bahannon (0) that were caught by Ben Brown behind the stumps. These two dismissals sandwiched the fall of Luke Wells (0) who was grabbed at slip by a diving Nick Gubbins, with these wickets bringing batsmen Steven Croft and Rob Jones together at the crease; who steadily settled things down by patiently absorbing pacey bowling to see off a 1st powerplay.
The batters continued to resist the home bowlers in a big twenty-four over partnership overall that yielded a total of 119 unbroken runs, Jones reaching his fifty landmark off 82 balls and progressing into the seventies with some good batting including multiple cover shot drives in particular against the seamers. Croft added 47 before being bowled by Campbell to leave the away score on 126-4, which soon became 145-5 when a high drive from George Balderson (6) was caught just inside the boundary in the 35th over after steady progress.
Jones was the sixth wicket for 84 runs as he was dismissed playing a hooked yorker to point off Scott Currie, who took another two dismissals within just 3 balls as he sent both Will Williams and Tom Bailey back to the pavilion during the thirty-ninth over. And following a pairing of nineteen runs, Lancashire were all out for 183 with Turner taking the last two wickets to complete his maiden five-for; first ending George Lavelle’s innings for an unlucky thirteen runs before drawing a shot from Liam Hurt to the diving hands of slip fielder Gubbins.
Hampshire made a good start adding eleven runs before losing their opening wicket when Bailey (1) trapped Brown leg-before with a low delivery; before Prest (16) and Gubbins (23) led a slow but effective recovery to 41-1 in the fourteenth. But this soon became 48-3 in a matter of sixteen balls as Hurt bowled Prest with a low yorker whilst Gubbins fell to a perfect trap as he was caught at cover to end a solid start; Aneurin Donald and Middleton dragging the score beyond sixty versus incredibly tight away bowling from the Red Rose seamers.
Frustration at a lack of boundaries took his toll as the hosts fell to 67-5 as Hurt had Donald (11) edging at slip and soon followed this by removing Middleton (10) caught behind off a quick in-swinger delivery. Felix Organ and Albert came together with intent as the pair adding 34 crucial runs before the latter had his middle stump smashed by Bailey for sixteen to make it 101-6. And despite Currie scoring two boundaries in a good start he was pinned LBW attempting a 3rd as the ball beat the bat for Wells’ sole dismissal with the score now 128-7.
Building away momentum was soon halted by young batting in the shape of Albert alongside seventeen-year old debutant Dom Kelly, the latter showing experience well beyond his teenage years with a mixture of timed shots and footwork to add seventeen before hooking to point to become Bailey’s third wicket. Down the other end Albert (65*) passed back-to-back fifties this time off 64 balls and ticked off the final eighteen runs to seal another win alongside Turner (4*); the winning shot a lofted-cover drive over point for four with ten balls left.
Following the win Hampshire remain top of Group B and will hope to officially seal their place in the last eight without even playing, with other teams set to play on Wednesday. But Gubbins’ side now face a five day rest before travelling to Neath for their sixth group match, where they will play Glamorgan in South Wales starting on Friday morning. Two final group games against Essex at home on August 21 and Yorkshire away just two days later make way for a quieter fortnight with quarter-final ties scheduled for either August 26 or August 30.
PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE CRICKET (GETTY IMAGES): Bowler celebrates a crucial Red Rose wicket as the hosts beat Lancashire on Sunday evening (August 14) to maintain perfect One-Day record after five ties.