Yesterday, Hampshire’s T20 victory over Glamorgan was not about the cricket.
Overshadowed by the sad news of Michael Carberry’s diagnosis of a cancerous tumour, the cricket family united for what felt like an all too familiar feeling.
It put everything into perspective. All of a sudden cricket didn’t really matter, but a game was played, led phenomenally by Liam Dawson, and Carberry was dedicated the win.
England’s latest all-rounder blasted 76*, then followed his hitting with 4-23, two match-winning efforts in a game Hampshire prevailed, but ultimately they’re already out of the tournament.
A team mercurial in cricket’s shortest format find themselves eliminated, heralding just one win in the competition before last night’s success in Wales.
With seven defeats in 11, the side who have reached the semi-finals every year since 2010 were spared further blushes when their game against tonight’s opponents Sussex Sharks was abandoned due to rain.
With four wins and four defeats so far, the likelihood of Sussex’s qualification to the last eight for a second successive year could hardly be more in the balance.
Tymal Mills’ express pace has been enough to be noticed by the England selectors, but three defeats in the last four have put them in a difficult position, despite Ross Taylor’s 324 runs in eight games.
But, with four teams locked on ten points, a win tonight would propel the Sharks back into a strong position. Hampshire have the recent rub of the green, however, with James Vince’s unbeaten 90 helping the visitors to a four-run win last time out.
Ross Taylor may be the man in the runs, but Luke Wright has the run of the short boundaries at Hove, although he has only made 41 in his last three innings. But with 29 half-centuries and six tons in the format behind him, Wright is hardly a bad option to have at the top of the order.
He may not be a big fan of the tournament, but with much expected of Shahid Afridi, his canny leg-spin and ability to clear any boundary may prove vital for Hampshire. He has however gone four innings without passing 30, a potential annoyance for a man once considered the best in the world.
There’s no room for Danny Briggs to face his old club, while the pace trio of Chris Jordan, Ajmal Shahzad and Tymal Mills all have international calibre behind them. West Indian Jofra Archer, a 21-year-old fast bowler, is also in after impressing with five wickets against Pakistan, his only senior appearance to date.
Sussex XI (in batting order): Chris Nash, Luke Wright (captain), Phil Salt, Ross Taylor, Matt Machan, Craig Cachopa (wicket-keeper), Will Beer, Chris Jordan, Ajmal Shahzad, Tymal Mills, Jofra Archer
Tino Best returns for Hampshire, despite going wicketless for much of the past month, with Gareth Andrew the man to miss out. Youngsters Gavin Griffiths, Brad Taylor and Brad Wheal get the run-around with nothing to play for for the visitors.
Hampshire XI (in batting order): Tom Alsop, Adam Wheater, Sean Ervine (captain), Liam Dawson, Shahid Afridi, Joe Weatherley, Lewis McManus (wicket-keeper), Tino Best, Brad Taylor, Gavin Griffiths, Brad Wheal
Hampshire have won the toss and are batting first.