In a day-night game interrupted late on by three rain delays, Hampshire gained a vital couple of points to enhance their chances of qualifying for the Royal London quarter finals. In truth, they were already well on top before the weather intervened so deserved their victory. The Bears were not helped by three run-outs and in the end fell well short. Man of the match Liam Dawson confirmed after the match that Hampshire felt their total of 280 was about thirty over par on a wearing pitch, and so it proved.
In front of a sparse crowd on a cloudy day, Hampshire were put in to bat. Their innings fell into three distinct phases. They got off to a flying start, with Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams raising the 50 opening stand in the sixth over. Chris Woakes, returning from injury, looked under-cooked and conceded 22 in his first two overs. But after Oliver Hannon-Dalby tempted Carberry into an edge outside off stump, Adam Wheater was brilliantly run out by Will Porterfield’s direct hit from backward point. This led to the second phase, up to the 20th over, when Hampshire struggled to re-assert themselves. They added only 45 in 15 overs and lost both Adams and James Vince. Vince fell to a near-perfect delivery from Oliver Hannon-Dalby, pitching on a good length just on off stump that moved away and lifted to take the edge. If he could do that once or twice an over, he could walk into the England team.
When Jeetan Patel claimed Adams, caught at short cover, it looked as though the Bears would apply a typical mid-innings squeeze. Patel showed all his variations of pace and length and leg-spinner Josh Poysden bowled some testing deliveries. But gradually, Will Smith and Liam Dawson took control. Their stand of 123 off 22 overs wrested the initiative from the Bears. The pitch (already used for the Test match and for the 50 over game earlier in the week) was taking spin but Poysden and Ateeq Javid were unable to exploit it fully. Dawson reached his fifty off 67 balls and Smith followed him, taking only 53 balls. It was a well-paced stand with some shrewd running between the wickets to back up the twelve fours and a six struck between them.
Rikki Clarke removed Dawson for 67 and then Josh Poysden had Will Smith caught at deep mid-wicket for 65. Since Smith will this winter replace Poysden as Gordon CC’s overseas player in Sydney Grade cricket, it was revenge of sorts for the young Warwickshire bowler.
Gareth Berg and Chris Wood were able to maintain the impetus with some late hitting so that Hampshire finished on a highly creditable 280-7. Hannon-Dalby bowled persistently for his 2/47 and Rikki Clarke came back well from conceding 24 off his first three overs. It was surprising that neither he nor Jeetan Patel completed their full stint of overs, bowling only 14 between them. To be sure, the two thirty-somethings have had a heavy workload this season but either might have bowled a few extra overs instead of Woakes whose line and length strayed too often.
The Bears made a disastrous start to their chase towards the 281 needed for victory. Will Porterfield struck Chris Wood hard to backward point where Michael Carberry held on to the catch.
Then, next ball, Jonathan Trott shouldered arms to a delivery that swung back in to trap him lbw. From this low point of 4-2, Varun Chopra and Tim Ambrose did their best to revive the innings. They both played some excellent shots through the off side and had added 77 runs in just 14.4 overs when Ambrose played Gareth Berg to Liam Dawson at mid-wicket and inexplicably set off for a run. Chopra stayed put and Ambrose departed.
As the clouds (and the ground staff) gathered, Warwickshire fell behind the Duckworth-Lewis par score. So when the rain came with the Bears on 89-3 off 18.3 overs, Hampshire were well placed. Despite two further rain delays and amended targets, Hampshire always looked on top. They were helped by excellent spin bowling by Liam Dawson who took 3/34 off his seven overs.
Varun Chopra with 49 and Laurie Evans with 43 batted well between the interruptions but never caught up with the advancing Duckworth-Lewis par score. Wickets tumbled steadily and the Bears saw their hopes of qualifying fading. They must hope for an unlikely set of results whereas Hampshire will feel that maybe one more win will do it.