The Royal London One-Day Cup hots up on Tuesday with Hampshire and Essex battling it out with the victors taking a big step towards a quarter final berth.
The Group B table is looking tight with numerous teams sharing second spot including those locking horns at the Ageas Bowl. With the competition now at the halfway stage, every point is vital and the bookies cannot separate this two sides. Hampshire were left frustrated on Sunday after their match with Glamorgan was postponed because of a dangerous pitch. Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams were lucky to avoid serious injury during a run chase that look set to overhaul the host’s target of 183. Their previous match resulted in a ten wicket win over Middlesex with young leg spinner Mason Crane impressing with figures of 4 for 30. Liam Dawson and Will Smith have also played a big role at matches in Southampton with their slow bowling collecting eleven wickets in the tournament so far. Dawson has also shone with the bat in his two innings whilst the top three of Adams, Carberry and James Vince will normally provide a strong platform for the middle order. Hampshire’s reputation as one of the best one-day teams in the country will be further enhanced with a win on Tuesday.
Essex have more concerns having lost their last two matches in the competition. A hammering in Cardiff was followed by defeat at the hands of Nottinghamshire on Sunday. Having restricted the Outlaws to 56 for three after 13 overs, Paul Grayson expressed his disappointment that his team could not finish off the job in an evenly contested tussle. Injuries sustained to Graham Napier and Ravi Bopara further exacerbated the problems although the latter appears to have recovered in time for this key game. The Eagles’ batsmen have all been in stellar form with Bopara, Mark Pettini and Tom Westley all collecting centuries in the past couple of weeks. Overseas all-rounder Jesse Ryder provides the firepower as shown by his tournament strike rate of 118. The absence of Napier from the side will give a youngster the chance to support Reece Topley who has been leading the bowling unit superbly. Having lost five of their last six matches at the Ageas Bowl, it will be a tall order for Ryan ten Doeschate’s men but one they are more than capable of pulling off.
Hampshire captain James Vince has been one of the best limited overs batsmen in England over the past few seasons. A strong player on both sides of the wicket, the elegant right hander started the tournament with a quickfire century but has missed out in the last three matches. He has a good record against Essex with his highest first-class score of 240 coming against them in 2014 and he will be hoping to impress again on Tuesday. A recent call up to the England T20 squad shows he is in the selectors’ minds and the responsibilities of skippering the side should further help his development.
The importance of Ravi Bopara to Essex in one-day cricket cannot be overestimated. He is their second top scorer in the tournament so far with an unbeaten century leading them to victory against Lancashire. He has also picked up seven wickets in the Group Stage with his variations keeping batsmen on their toes. Having represented England in 158 short form matches, Bopara certainly has plenty of big match experience under his belt. He should play a major role on Tuesday if he has shaken off the slight injury he picked up against Nottinghamshire.
Hampshire have named an unchanged squad from the match against Glamorgan with Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry both passed fit after receiving blows to the head in Cardiff. Yasir Arafat offers experience if Dale Benkenstein opts to shuffle the seamers whilst Danny Briggs may also return if any of the spinners suffer a late injury.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Jimmy Adams, Yasir Arafat, Gareth Berg, Jackson Bird, Danny Briggs, Michael Carberry, Mason Crane, Liam Dawson, Fidel Edwards, Joe Gatting, Will Smith, Adam Wheater (wk), Chris Wood
The Eagles suffered a blow on Sunday when all-rounder Graham Napier had to leave the field against Nottinghamshire with a calf strain. The injury rules him out of the match with Matt Salisbury taking his place in the squad. Jamie Porter seems the most likely to deputise in the starting eleven after impressing in the County Championship this season with Aron Nijjar also in the running if the pitch favours spin bowling.
Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (c), Ravi Bopara, Nick Browne, James Foster (wk), David Masters, Aron Nijjar, Mark Pettini, Jamie Porter, Jesse Ryder, Matt Salisbury, Reece Topley, Kishen Velani, Tom Westley
Weather and conditions
Conditions should be perfect for one-day cricket in Southampton on Tuesday with sunny intervals, a light breeze and temperatures of 20˚C. The first RL One-Day Cup match on the pitch this season yielded 600 runs indicating a good batting strip whilst the success of Mason Crane and Liam Dawson highlights the importance of spinners at the Ageas Bowl.
Date: 4th August 2015
Ground: Ageas Bowl, Southampton
Umpires: Nick Cook and Nigel Cowley
Odds (Bet365): Hampshire 10/11, Essex 10/11