T20 Blast Preview: Hampshire v Sussex

Even just three matches into this year’s Natwest T20 Blast, a sizeable gulf has opened up between Hampshire and Sussex, two sides who play each other for the second time in just over a week.

The hosts have won all three and sit joint top, while the visitors have garnered just a solitary point, claimed during a washout against Gloucestershire, and are rooted to the foot of the South Group.

Defeat for Essex last night gives Sussex an opportunity to move up the table, a victory essential to kick start what has been a disappointing start to the shortest format.

Their batting has let them down thus far, falling short chasing totals of 198 and 188 – that one in the reverse fixture last week – and setting just 156 against Gloucester, a total one might imagine the joint leaders would have been able to chase, but for rain.

Luke Wright has passed fifty on two occasions – converting one into a century – but no other batsman has reached that milestone this season.

Hampshire, meanwhile, have been in fine form, setting defendable totals and being clinical with the ball. Legspinner Mason Crane has six wickets with four apiece for the remaining four bowlers, with the same XI featuring in each victory.

After failing to reach Finals Day last year, the first time since 2009, it is beginning to look like Hampshire’s 2016 T20 struggles may have been just a blip.

When they met at Hove last Wednesday, Hampshire made it 13 wins in 14 matches over the Sharks, who have won just three times at The Ageas Bowl in this format.

Key Men

Mason Crane is a Sussex boy – he was born in Shoreham – and his home county may well regret the decision to leave him out at Under 14 level. He’s had a strong Blast campaign so far with six wickets at just under 11, his variations with the ball dangerous. Crane gave the Sharks a taste of his rapidly-developing talent last week with two scalps, and on a pitch likely to offer him assistance, his spell could turn the match.

Sussex have suffered their two defeats chasing and, regardless of when they bat in this match, they’ll need their top order to play a strong hand. Look no further than Ross Taylor, his talent immense and his experience deep. The skipper has just 91 from so far this campaign but is certainly capable of producing plenty of fireworks, and the Sharks will need him to fire if they are to break their duck.

Team News

The hosts have named an unchanged squad from their win over Middlesex on Friday. Jimmy Adams and Chris Wood are the two members of the 13 who haven’t featured and, barring any late injuries, expect them to remain unused.

Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Lewis McManus (wk), Kyle Abbott, Jimmy Adams, Shahid Afridi, George Bailey, Gareth Berg, Michael Carberry, Mason Crane, Sean Ervine, Rilee Rossouw, Reece Topley, Chris Wood

Tymal Mills featured for Sussex’s second XI on Tuesday having recovered from a hamstring injury and could make his first appearance of the season at Southampton. The remaining 13 members of the squad are unchanged from Sunday’s washed out match at Cheltenham.

Sussex squad: Ross Taylor (c), Ben Brown (wk), Jofra Archer, Will Beer, Danny Briggs, Laurie Evans, George Garton, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, Chris Nash, Phil Salt, David Wiese, Luke Wright, Stiaan van Zyl

Form

Hampshire: WWWWL
Sussex: ALLAL

Weather and conditions

It’s set to be a mildly sunny evening at Southampton and on a generally true surface, this match could be a high-scoring affair.

Date: 20th July 2017
Time: 7:00pm
Ground: The Ageas Bowl
Umpires: Paul Baldwin & Michael Gough
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 4/7, Sussex 11/8

 

Burns’ valiant effort gives Surrey draw

The past four days have been something of a rollercoaster for Rory Burns. Gareth Batty’s groin injury on the opening morning meant vice-captain Burns was promoted to lead the side. He subsequently directed traffic in the field for 161.4 overs, and then proceeded to bat for the next 12 and a half hours.

It would be no exaggeration to say what he did was downright Herculean. Not once leaving the field during Hampshire’s innings, Burns batted just over ten hours in the first innings and just over two-and-a-half in the second to earn a draw.

Even on a pancake flat Oval wicket, he was the only Surrey man to make three figures. That they take ten points, and not five, from this match is entirely down to him.

His effort is the more remarkable when considering how few chances he gave: Sean Ervine missed a very sharp chance at second slip yesterday with Burns on 98; and on 21 second time around, he gave up running to the non-striker’s end only for the throw to miss the stumps.

Other than that, he had looked like a man who had mastered batting. Hampshire, as they were in the preceding four sessions, appeared helpless to trouble him today, let alone dismiss him.

Burns cut and pulled powerfully and elegantly, was tempted into reverse sweeps and scoops against Mason Crane, and hit through the covers nicely too. He had scored just one run in the opening 25 minutes of the morning but soon started scoring fluently.

He pulled his first and only six off Crane before a couple of overs later taking 11 from the legspinner, as he brought up his maiden first-class double century clipping four through midwicket. When Mark Footitt chipped a catch to midwicket, Surrey were 16 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on.

Burns had carried his bat with 219* – the first Surrey man to do that since Jonathan Batty in 2003 and finishing with the second highest score by a Surrey batsman doing so – and was forced to go back out just ten minutes later.

“No, not at any stage,” he said when asked if he contemplated promoting a teammate instead. “I was geared up and ready to go.”

Once again, Burns was entirely comfortable. It was very clearly not a technical battle he faced but one of mentality, of being resolute enough to bat for as long as he did – there were no demons in the pitch to cause issue.

Strangely, his stroke-making after lunch – as he approached his 11th hour in the middle – seemed to become even better. He continued to time the ball with perfection, almost willing the ball to the gaps with his mind.

Even his occasionally unconvincing shot landed safely. His second-innings fifty, brought up with a top-edged sweep, came in 64 balls – 35 balls faster than his first. Nothing, it seemed, could be done to stop him.

That was until he was stumped in a bizarre moment, on 68, advancing to Ervine and missing the ball down leg, only for it to rebound off wicketkeeper Lewis McManus onto the stumps. Burns was out 29 minutes before the end of the match.

As he departed, the few hundred spectators spread around The Oval gave a rapturous standing ovation. He had faced 535 deliveries, batted for 756 minutes, and scored 287 runs, raising his average for the season from 40.36 to 57.25.

He hadn’t left the playing arena in 351.2 overs, the equivalent of 22 hours and 55 minutes – not even for a toilet break.

“I think that is the best I’ve ever played,” Burns reflected. “I just tried to stay in my box and watch the ball.

“I managed to narrow my focus down and was thinking about balls rather than the context of the game.

“When I got the double hundred, I was more thinking about the situation of trying to get to the follow-on, which actually was quite nice.”

Captaining in the Specsavers County Championship for just the second time, Burns said: “I do really enjoy it. It’s a part of the game I actually quite like. Most of the time, I was just thinking about what we were up to.”

Aside from Burns, Tom Curran had resumed overnight on 35, and struck a stunning straight drive to claim his 1000th first-class run.

He brought up his fifth first-class half-century but was soon bowled by Ian Holland by one that kept a touch low. Amar Virdi lost his off stump to the same bowler.

Second time around, Mark Stoneman had caressed his way to 47 before being trapped plumb in front by Holland, who got Scott Borthwick two balls later, leaving one that nipped back a mile to remove leg stump.

But Jason Roy (37*) stuck around, launching Crane into the OCS Stand, and as he and Dominic Sibley (12*) took Surrey into the lead, the players shook hands. Surrey’s ten points leaves them joint fifth with Middlesex; Hampshire’s 12 takes them a point behind second-placed Lancashire.

Captain Burns cranks up the heat to keep Surrey’s flame alive

 

Stumps, Day Three: Surrey 410-7 (Burns 174*) trail Hampshire 648-7d by 238 runs.

Stand-in Surrey captain Rory Burns played a mammoth innings, hitting his maiden first-class century of the season, to give his side a semblance of hope of salvaging a draw against Hampshire.

Burns’ gargantuan knock has now lasted eight hours and 27 minutes and, having directed traffic for nearly 162 overs in the first innings, he is yet to leave the field.

Resuming the morning on 45, Burns took just four balls to reach his sixth first-class fifty of the season. Three wickets fell in the opening session but he played a real leader’s innings, watchful and patient with the task at hand – reaching the follow-on target of 499 – set to be challenging. The pitch is very flat, but Hampshire’s bowling attack isn’t lacking in magicians.

Burns drove nicely but swept Mason Crane even better, each example a delightful display of batting prowess. It was particularly remarkable given how well Crane had bowled throughout the morning, taking just the wicket of Conor McKerr but looking dangerous. Jason Roy was particularly lucky to survive one that turned off middle stump and missed everything.

Burns gave just one real chance in the entire day. On 98, Fidel Edwards found his edge and Sean Ervine, at first slip, was unable to hold on to a sharp catch diving to his left. Fittingly, he cut the very next ball to the rope to bring up three figures.

Partners came and went but the 26-year-old was resolute, the visitors’ six bowlers helpless to trouble him. Hampshire bowled well for most of the day and yet had very little answer to their foe’s immaculate timing and precision.

A single into the legside brought about his 150 and he eventually moved to 174* – his second highest first-class knock. He has never scored a double century – 199 is his high score – and it’s difficult to see him getting a better opportunity this season.

By the close, Burns was being ably assisted by Tom Curran, who played some crisp offside shots to end unbeaten on 35. The two still have plenty of work to do tomorrow morning, resuming 238 runs behind.

The only other man to show real resistance, Dominic Sibley, showed his talent with a classy 57 from number six. He cut wonderfully, taking a particular liking to the in-tandem spin of Crane and Ervine. Sweeping the former and lofting the latter, Sibley frustrated Hampshire either side of lunch, reaching a sixth first-class half-century in 2017.

But just as though it looked like he and Burns could bat for most of the day’s remaining 35 overs, Sibley left one from Abbott that nipped back a touch and hit him on the top of the front pad just outside off and he was gone for 57.

Sibley was full of praise for his captain at the end of the day: “The application he’s shown, and the stroke-making as well, was outstanding. Hopefully he can kick on and make it into a double hundred and hopefully kick on further and make it a real big one.

“[It was a] tough day, but we battled hard and we’re in a position tomorrow where hopefully if we can get past the follow-on mark we can have a crack at them.”

Scott Borthwick had looked highly uncomfortable for his 36-ball three, inside edging Kyle Abbott behind playing a very loose shot. Roy played some nice strokes in his all-too-brief innings, advancing Crane and taking four back over his head. Abbott had him lbw playing behind his pad for 27.

Ben Foakes fell to a great catch by Rilee Rossouw at midwicket, snatching the ball low after the Surrey wicketkeeper had played a pull downwards.

Sam Curran thrice found the boundary rope but did little else. He was given two bouncers in an over from Edwards before nicking a full delivery behind last ball of said over.

Edwards, speaking at the close, said: “The pitch is flat and slow as well. It’s really hard on the fast bowlers – hard on the spinners as well.  Hopefully if we can get some early wickets tomorrow it will put us in a strong position.”

Stoneman and Burns lead Surrey fightback, but Hampshire maintain control

Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns formed a century opening stand to help Surrey to a comfortable position in the final session of the second day against Hampshire, despite the hosts remaining 535 runs behind.

The visitors travel to Cardiff immediately after this game ahead of a T20 on Friday night, and they may well be unable to spot the difference between the M4 and the wicket they are currently playing on.

Even with Hampshire’s dominant batting performance, the old adage of not judging until both sides have batted was required. 20 wickets in the match feels unlikely, let alone 20 Surrey wickets.

Stoneman picked up where he left off on Saturday, batting sensibly but relatively quickly, favouring the cover drive and the offside in general. All of his ten boundaries came that side of the wicket.

He got into gear early, taking three fours off Gareth Berg’s second over and giving just one chance, edging one from Ian Holland but the ball bounced just short of gully. The opener was fluent, 36 of his first 50 runs coming through boundaries. It’s the sixth time he’s passed fifty in first-class cricket this year.

He had looked very well set, until Sean Ervine, in his first over, found an edge from a yorker with Rilee Rossouw doing the business at first slip. It was a rather tame end, given how many runs were on offer and how well he batted.

Stand-in captain Burns had batted nicely too, although much more in the vein of opening day centurion Jimmy Adams: watchful, patient. By the close he had reached 45, partnered now by nightwatchman Conor McKerr.

Despite the strong start, the hosts had and continue to have a job to do, having begun their innings with a follow-on target of 499.

Hampshire would expect at least one early wicket in the morning with McKerr and, however tough it may be, a Surrey side missing Kumar Sangakkara gives them an in.

Earlier, Hampshire had piled on the runs having seemingly decided they weren’t interested in batting twice in this game.

Captain George Bailey picked up where he left off yesterday, continuing to find gaps in the field and accumulating runs quickly. Only one real moment of excitement came for Surrey, Bailey flashing hard but out of the reach of gully.

He and Sean Ervine otherwise batted a pretty chanceless morning in which, by the lunch break, it seemed as though the hosts were simply going through the motions. Ervine took Hampshire past 400, clipping four through midwicket.

Bailey reached his second hundred for the club, reverse sweeping Amar Virdi for his 14th four – the shot was a particular favourite of his, scoring at least a dozen from it.

His partner’s innings, meanwhile, was unfussy and mostly unremarkable, racing to his half-century in 68 balls but with little recklessness, bringing up the milestone with a cover-driven single.

136 runs were added before lunch and after it, Hampshire increased the tempo.

Ervine rocked back and pulled a very nice four through midwicket, but in the next over he cut one from Conor McKerr back onto his stumps, departing for 83 – his second-highest first-class score this season. He and the skipper had added 167, a new record for the fifth wicket against Surrey.

Bailey went on, advancing to Scott Borthwick and hitting his second six over wide-mid-on, bringing up his 150 in the process. Assisted ably by Ian Holland, he made it to 161 – his second-highest first-class knock – before holing out to Mark Footitt in the deep, the fast bowler taking a very fine catch on the rope.

Holland cut boundaries off McKerr and Dominic Sibley, hitting a third boundary back over Borthwick’s head. He became the fifth batsman of the innings to pass fifty paddle sweeping two, his maiden first-class half-century.

Gareth Berg was essentially deployed as a pinch-hitter, facing just 16 balls but striking 35. He thrice plonked Sibley for six, twice over long off and once straight back into the pavilion, taking 24 from the part-timer.

But Sibley got a glimmer of vindication when another big hit went wrong and Tom Curran caught a high ball at long-on.

Hampshire’s total was their fifth highest and their biggest score against Surrey; it was the eighth largest tally conceded by the hosts.

Adams and Vince make centuries against sorry Surrey

In the space of just over 48 hours, three batsmen made centuries against Surrey, all in very different fashion and all with very little in the way of response, today from a largely inexperienced attack.

On Saturday, that centurion was Alex Hales, inflicting on Surrey their third Royal London One-Day Cup final defeat in as many years. Today, both James Vince and Jimmy Adams racked up the runs as Hampshire took a firm hold after choosing to bat on a flat Oval surface.

Where Hales took apart bowling like a man using a sledgehammer, Adams batted with the finesse of a skilled surgeon. It wasn’t always exciting, nor was it ever extravagant; rather, it was an innings of grit and determination.

That was especially apparent in the morning session, in which he faced 89 balls for just 24.

Either side of lunch he racked up 25 dot balls, worrying about nothing other than the next ball and treating it with the shot it deserved. It was his 101st ball when he broke that streak with a boundary; his next 73 runs to his century came in 87 deliveries.

He and Vince worked Surrey’s bowlers into the ground, and by mid-afternoon scoring had become relatively easy, the pair able to pick off the flurry of wayward deliveries. Both scored plenty square of the wicket, and plenty in boundaries.

216 of the day’s runs came in fours, the majority through beautifully executed cover drives or cuts with the ball racing away.

Vince’s innings was more aggressive, in the style one would expect a James Vince ton to be, but rarely risky and not brutally destructive. His drives were a thing of wonder, picking out the gaps with expert precision, accumulating runs with ease. 40 of his first 46 runs were fours.

Vince’s half-century came pushing off the back foot to cover point, and he only proceeded to accelerate. He batted at quicker than a run-a-ball to three figures, notching up another nine boundaries. Both batsmen took a particular liking to Conor McKerr: 16 overs for 76 with 17 coming from the 19-year-old’s 11th over.

Vince dabbed to third man to move into the nineties and three overs later helped the ball around the corner for his 20th career ton. Eight balls later, he was out in the exact same fashion as his second innings dismissal last week – Tom Curran finding a touch of extra bounce and Vince edging a cut through to Ben Foakes.

In the latter stages of his century, Adams moved up a gear, pulling Tom Curran for six before launching Amar Virdi over his head, first for six and then for four. He worked off his legs to bring up his three figures, a second first-class century of the year for both him and Vince.

Adams wasn’t done. He slowed once again, the Curran brothers tidy with the second new ball but the remaining bowlers often erratic, and the 36-year-old punished what needed punishing.

First ball of the last over of the day, however, he missed a yorker from Virdi and was bowled legstump, bringing to an end his 144, but it did little to taint an otherwise chanceless knock.

Skipper George Bailey joined Adams just prior to tea and, although not keeping the same scoring speed as the man he replaced, he was just as purposeful. There were big runs on offer and he knew it.

He timed the ball sweetly, powerfully, and occasionally brutally. Bailey struck the day’s third six, advancing to Virdi and finding one of the upper stands at the Vauxhall end.

He pulled Mark Footitt through midwicket for his second Specsavers County Championship half-century of the season – his other came against Lancashire, where he went on to make 127. By the close, he had 61* with his side very well set for a mammoth total.

“It’s nice to be able to wake up in the morning and knowing you’re still in a good place, still batting, but I’d have taken that,” Adams said.

“It was a bit of a grind [in the] first session. There wasn’t much in terms of scoring options.

“Maybe that was just me, because Vincey came in and made it look very easy, but that’s the way he plays. And [George Bailey] as well, it’s nice to have a good partnership with him.”

“We’re delighted with the day but well aware there’s plenty of cricket left in this. It looks a good batter’s wicket.”

Earlier, Lewis McManus – promoted to open in Liam Dawson’s absence with England – had made just 13 before being bowled by Sam Curran. Rilee Rossouw, kept at three with Tom Alsop presumably chomping at the bit for his chance, looked more fluent than in recent weeks but reached just 28 before playing at a wide delivery from Tom Curran and edging to second slip.

Surrey’s Director of Cricket Alec Stewart said: “I thought first session, we were decent. Middle session, we definitely weren’t, and then the second new ball I thought the Currans bowled well.

“But overall, there wasn’t enough of that discipline bowling that we’d expect from a top side, and we got punished.”

Surrey will also be concerned by the absence of captain Gareth Batty, who has a calf problem, and Kumar Sangakkara, who split webbing on Saturday. Stewart expects both to be out for ten to 12 days.

Surrey weak spots a focus for the future says Batty

Surrey captain Gareth Batty says they will need to address the make-up of their side in order to break their streak of losing in white-ball finals after losing to Nottinghamshire by four wickets.

The Londoners have been runners-up in the last three Royal London One-Day Cups and suffered defeat in the 2013 T20 final too, meaning their most recent limited over success remains the YB40 in 2011.

Batty – who won the toss and chose to bat against Notts – believes that it was the right decision for their side and that things must change.

He said: “You can’t keep losing and expect to say that it’s right because obviously it isn’t. It’s something that we need address further down the line. 50 over cricket is done for another year and we need to address where we’re at.

“It was a good pitch. For the way that we’re made up, our make-up at the minute, it was definitely right.

“We can’t and shouldn’t be relying on certain individuals. Everybody’s got to be performing the roles that are required.”

Alex Hales smashed records with an incredible 187* as his side won by four wickets, captain Chris Read – in his last Lord’s final appearance – chipping in with 58.

The England opener now boasts the highest score in a one-day match at Lord’s; the highest score by a Nottinghamshire batsman in List A cricket and he broke his own high score in the format.

“He’s been a fine player for a very long time for England and we saw that,” Batty said of Hales. “An international player [did] it on the domestic scene today, [he] played quite magnificently well.

“You [aren’t] going to get 187 and lose too many times. So, look, credit to him, but that’s no excuse from us. We could have and should have made the difference in other parts of the game.”

The defining moment of the innings undoubtedly came with Hales on nine as he chipped a Sam Curran delivery to cover where Ollie Pope couldn’t hold on to a chance that came at him quickly and Batty is adamant the blame doesn’t lie with the 19-year-old.

“He’s a young kid and he was magnificent in the field. He’s one of us, he’s got a massive future. We’re all to blame today, certainly not a young fella that’s putting himself on the map in a big way. If anything, that’s down to me.”

Surrey were defeated despite a well-fought 144* by opener Mark Stoneman, who held together his side’s hopes during a mid-innings collapse that saw them lost three for eight.

Stoneman was not included in the England Test squad for next week’s match against South Africa and his skipper is hesitant to criticise the selectors for their decision.

“It’s not the first time this season he’s played well. There’s been a couple of big hundreds in the Championship as well.

“We obviously want as many players as humanly possible to be playing for England from Surrey but it’s not my place to be saying who should and who shouldn’t.”

Surrey must now turn their attention to Monday’s County Championship game against Hampshire.

Surrey drenched by Nottinghamshire Halestorm

Alex Hales made the most of an early life by hitting the highest score in a one-day match at Lord’s to lead Nottinghamshire to their fifth limited overs trophy, beating Surrey by four wickets.

Had Hales turned to Ollie Pope after the Surrey man dropped him on nine, and said, “You’ve just dropped the Royal London One-Day Cup”, it would have felt a little premature.

It would, however, have been immensely accurate, for he would go on to score 187* in a remarkable chase that handed Surrey their third runners-up medals in as many years.

It appeared for the majority of his side’s innings that Hales wasn’t playing in the same game as his teammates. Where they struggled to get in and looked uncomfortable against Surrey’s attack, he caressed and tonked the ball in equal measure to all sides.

Notts’ difficulty scoring made Hales’ life all the more important. In Sam Curran’s first over, he drove to cover where Pope couldn’t hold onto the catch. It went hard and fast, but was the only chance the opener gave and the decisive moment in the match.

The cover drive was a particular favourite of Hales’, his execution so stunning one might be forgiven for watching a compilation of them on repeat for hours on end. He was in a different class for the entire afternoon, Surrey helpless in the counter-attack.

He pulled the first six of the day not long after being dropped, then proceeded to strike boundary after boundary wherever there were gaps, with ease. By the time he got to 94 in the 18th over, his side had just 117 runs in total. He brought up three figures with a push to long on, and was far from finished.

Eventually partnered by skipper Chris Read, playing in his last Lord’s final before retiring, Hales continued the onslaught, launching Scott Borthwick into the stands twice in an over.

A flick round the corner brought up his 150 and passed Geoffrey Boycott’s record of the highest domestic one-day final score. More records tumbled as his tally increased: his 171st run gave him the highest one-day score at Lord’s, the next his highest List A score, while his 185th surpassed Michael Lumb as the highest List A score by a Nottinghamshire batsman.

Meanwhile, Read displayed his class, steadying his side when they could easily have collapsed. He hit seven fours but was almost innocuous compared to his partner, bringing up his half-century – accidentally when the ball hitting his wayward bat as he ducked, as if to sum up Surrey’s afternoon – at a run-a-ball.

Others had tried, and failed, to partner Hales in his mammoth knock. Lumb was removed lbw in the powerplay, as was Riki Wessels. Hales and Samit Patel added 44 for the third wicket, but Patel scored just seven before hooking a short one from Ravi Rampaul to Sam Curran.

Brendan Taylor was, for some time, the only man to make double figures, reaching the dizzying heights of 11 with a crisp straight drive before edging Jade Dernbach behind next ball.

Read holed out 11 runs short of victory on 58, departing to a standing ovation from the 17,000 strong crowd. James Pattinson hit the winning run as Notts celebrated their first limited over success since 2013.

Earlier, Mark Stoneman had carried his bat for Surrey with an excellent 144*, though he too might have been out far sooner but for a horror drop.

He anchored Surrey’s innings, the only man to look resolute during difficult periods having started in the same fine form that makes his Test squad omission all the more disheartening. He looked fluent early on, punishing width through the covers or cutting in glorious fashion.

In the eighth over came the big reprieve – the ex-Durham man not quite finding the middle and Steven Mullaney, at cover, put down the simplest of chances, perhaps losing the ball in the array of empty, white seats in the top of the Tavern Stand. Irrespective of the how, the what had significance.

Joined after the first powerplay by Kumar Sangakkara – batting for what will likely be his final county appearance at Lord’s – Stoneman continued to press on, cutting his seventh boundary to reach his fifty in the 12th over.

He was given another let off in the seventies when Read couldn’t hold onto a faint edge off Patel, and he made Nottinghamshire pay for it. As wickets tumbled around him, Stoneman slowed a touch to keep his side falling apart.

His first century in the competition this season, from 108 balls, came through an edge that raced away very fine, but he wasn’t finished yet. Though he struck just two more fours after reaching three figures, he ensured Surrey batted their allocation, carrying his bat for a very impressive 144*.

But how much easier it could have been, had they caught him earlier. Or, indeed, had Jason Roy been out for a golden duck as opposed to the 23 he made. First ball of the match, Luke Fletcher found his edge but the ball went straight through the hands of Wessels at first slip. It was about as routine, if not more so, than Mullaney’s blunder.

Sangkkarra was tied down by some tight bowling from Mullaney, in tandem with Stuart Broad, and made just 30 before feathering through to Read. Soon after his dismissal came a mini collapse: three wickets in nine balls for eight runs.

First Scott Borthwick gave Mullaney catching practice at midwicket, the Outlaws man then bowling Ben Foakes, who played inside a straight one, before Patel had Pope caught behind to leave Surrey 180-5. Patel finished with figures of 3-51, furthering his case that he deserves a look-in if England want a left arm spinner.

Sam Curran played a good supporting hand with 24, but he was beaten for pace by James Pattinson, while brother Tom denied a second run that was clearly there and was run out in the mix-up, at least having the presence of mind to ensure he was the man out.

Gareth Batty attempted to walk when he edged behind but Read prevented him doing so, unsure on the carry. Replays proved it dropped short. Batty was bowled a run later, and Jade Dernbach holed out to long off after ramping a couple over fine leg.

“Is it that important for English players to be good at it?” Bailey on day/night games

Hampshire captain George Bailey believes that day/night Test matches will not be played in England long-term despite the ECB trialling the format in this week’s Specsavers County Championship fixtures.

A pink ball was used in each of the nine matches to test day/night cricket – and to give England’s players a chance to practice in the conditions – ahead of an August Test against the West Indies.

But Bailey thinks that it will only work in other countries.

“I would have thought you’re not going to play day/night tests in England. I think day/night test cricket has a future in other countries but probably not here.

“So given that, is it that important for your English players to be good at it and is it so different that they wouldn’t be able to get enough exposure to it just playing a couple of tour games when they went to those countries, that they were going to play the tests at?

“The one thing I have said back home, that I continue to repeat, is I don’t think the ball is the same quality as the red ball and so I’d keep urging whoever is involved in that to keep trying to get that to be a better cricket ball.”

Bailey was speaking after his side’s draw with Somerset, who narrowly avoided defeat in the final session of a rain affected game.

Chasing 161 in the final 31 overs of the day, Steven Davies hit 47 to give his side hope but players shook hands with Somerset eight wickets down, Josh Davey and Craig Overton the not out batsmen as the visitors’ rearguard action salvaged five points.

“I had my heart in my mouth a little bit when they started to get a bit of a partnership but we’d seen all game it was so difficult to score and particularly as the ball got older, it became really difficult to score,” Bailey said.

“It was hard to drive under lights so we thought there was enough in our favour if we could put them under a little bit of pressure, and our bowlers have done a really good job all game.

“[It was] heartbreaking at the end when you only need two wickets and you feel like you’re on top, but in terms of the manner of the way we played, that was really pleasing.”

The result leaves Hampshire level on points with third-placed Yorkshire, while Somerset move off the foot of the table, now two points ahead of Warwickshire.

Coach Matthew Maynard expressed his relief over saving the match, but is concerned with how the team continues to bat. They have passed 300 just once in their last ten innings.

“We always knew it was going to be a challenging task and probably only one of our batsmen actually looked at ease out there, scoring at the rate required, and that was Steve Davies. Everyone else struggled to hit the ball.

“To be fair I thought they kept the pressure and applied the pressure. We’re obviously down on confidence, but the guys actually went out there – players like Eddie Byrom and Hildi [James Hildreth], they’ve tried to get the ball away and it was their undoing in the end, and likewise with Steve.

“It was quite a slow wicket and quite a hard wicket to score on, so yeah, relieved. Nice to get the draw but disappointed overall with our batting performance through both innings again.”

 

Somerset stave off defeat in Southampton thriller

It’s perhaps inconceivable that a match reduced nearly by half due to rain could produce a final session where all three results are still within the realms of possibility. And although the spoils were ultimately shared between Hampshire and Somerset, the climax was truly incredible.

The hosts declared during a rain interval that robbed the match of a further 18 overs, leaving Somerset 161 to win from 31 overs. Given the circumstances, the task was monumental: under the lights against a threatening bowling line-up, with the pink ball proving tough to score off and an outfield slowed by two days’ worth of water.

And although snatching the 16 points that have evaded them all season would have been an incredible feat, salvaging a draw from such an unlikely position is in itself worth praising, even if Somerset will need to cross-examine how they threw away such a strong opening day.

Steven Davies was promoted to open alongside Marcus Trescothick, who fell to Gareth Berg in the third over as James Vince took a stunning diving catch at extra cover. Three balls later, Adam Hose – who had looked calm and untroubled in his first innings 48 – edged behind to leave his side 4-2.

It wasn’t long before James Hildreth departed, bowled by a full delivery from Kyle Abbott, Somerset 27-3 and evoking memories of the first innings collapse. But Davies was in his element – he scored 115 for Surrey against Leicestershire in a final day chase of 216 in 21 overs two years ago – and endured, taking the attack to Hampshire.

He and Eddie Byrom pushed the rate up to five and a half an over at one stage and, with seven wickets still in hand, the target was looking increasingly more attainable.

But in the space of six balls, Byrom was bowled by Ian Holland for 15 and then Tom Abell went reverse sweeping Liam Dawson, finding only a top edge to slip.

It was a baffling shot choice – one he had attempted the ball before with no success – and the Somerset skipper is woefully out of form with a pair in this match. He has as many Championship double figure scores this season as ducks before this match: three.

When Davies fell chipping Holland to wide mid off, any hope of a miraculous Somerset victory had been extinguished, and the goal became avoiding a fifth defeat of the season.

Tim Groenewald – promoted to seven from 11 – was joined by Lewis Gregory who batted for half an hour before leaving one from Berg, and being trapped lbw with 25 balls remaining. Groenewald nicked behind with seven balls remaining to intensify the drama.

Craig Overton and Josh Davey negotiated the final seven balls and denied Hampshire a win that would have seen them go outright third. As it is, the hosts draw level with third-placed Yorkshire while Somerset leapfrog Warwickshire into eighth.

Earlier, Somerset’s remarkable collapse on the third afternoon left them in a precarious position but Hampshire’s desire to force something left the match fascinatingly poised.

The visitors were quickly dismissed for 147, and Jimmy Adams and Dawson went about setting a platform to declare. Adams looked uncomfortable against the new pink ball – as he did in the first innings – and Dawson wasn’t accelerating much either.

Just after the first interval, the hosts attempted to shift to a higher gear but they succeeded only in stalling, losing three wickets for 15 runs as Somerset clawed back some control.

Rilee Rossouw hit 22 – his highest first-class score in ten innings – and looked impressive. One particularly memorable boundary came evading a shorter delivery from Gregory, essentially late cutting the ball between the wicketkeeper and first slip.

Two balls after that, with the score on 64, he tried again in a more conventional manner but Hildreth took a terrific catch low to his right.

Hampshire made it to 79 but then lost two in two. The first came as Vince tried cutting Gregory but could only feather through to Davies on 20. Sean Ervine pushed his first ball into the offside but was caught ball-watching and sent George Bailey back, the skipper with no chance of making his ground.

Rain stopped play at 5.40pm and an early second interval was taken at 6.10pm. Play resumed at 7.10pm with the news that Hampshire had declared on 96-5 to set up the exhilarating ending.

 

The Road to Lord’s: Surrey

Such is the format of the Royal London One-Day Cup that, remarkably, Surrey were able to win just four of their eight group games and still find themselves in a third final in as many years.

Their, thus far successful, campaign began poorly with Surrey on the receiving end of Roelof van der Merwe’s second highest score in a Somerset shirt (165*) as they recovered from 22-5 to win by four wickets. That was despite Ben Foakes hitting 92. Foakes is yet to record a three-figure score in the competition but has six half-centuries from seven innings, and boasts the tournament’s highest average of 120.25.

Victory at Cardiff in their second game came largely thanks to Mark Stoneman, whose 48-ball 74 helped his new side to a comfortable chase of a reduced target of 182. But that failed to ignite a winning streak and, two days later, they were defeated by one wicket against Essex.

Defending just 210 after winning the toss, Jade Dernbach took four wickets – taking him to ten in white-ball cricket from just three games – but Essex’s number nine Simon Harmer helped his team over the line with an unbeaten 44.

Next up came the London derby, with Middlesex travelling south of the Thames only to return empty-handed. Nick Gubbins and John Simpsons struck fifties, but only two other batsmen made double figures. Ravi Rampaul picked up four wickets and Surrey’s top order made light work of their 244 chase, with three half-centuries.

But Surrey were to falter once again just two days later against Sussex. Mark Stoneman and Ollie Pope both made fifties but it wasn’t enough to counter the Sharks’ 300, the visitors all out for 205.

Defeat at Hove made it just two wins from five although they sat fifth, level on points with both Hampshire and Glamorgan.

Stuart Meaker had just one wicket from three One-Day Cup matches but found rejuvenated success against Kent in his fourth, taking 4-37 to bowl out the visitors for 204 in a reduced match. Foakes had earlier hit 82 to give Surrey victory and keep realistic qualification hopes alive.

George Bailey’s second highest List A score of 145* had given Hampshire a defendable total of 271 but, with rain forecast at The Oval, the almost immovable Kumar Sangakkara decided to take no risks, striking 124 from 121 balls to give his side a 66 run win on Duckworth/Lewis.

A washout at Bristol, as well as between Hampshire and Sussex at Southampton, meant Surrey finished third in the South Group and earned a playoff spot against Yorkshire.

The Vikings were Surrey’s semi-final opponents last year and once again succumbed to the Southerners. Sangakkara scored his 100th century in all forms while Foakes, whose 90 was crucial in their encounter last August, hit 86 as Surrey claimed a 24 run victory.

Jason Roy returned for the semi-final at Worcester after England’s Champions Trophy exit and scored 92, with Sangakkara and Foakes once again contributing fifties as Surrey posted a mammoth 363. Captain Gareth Batty played at New Road for eight years and picked up his first five-wicket-haul against his former club to demolish them by 153 runs, setting up Saturday’s final against Nottinghamshire.