They call it ‘El Clasicoast’: a derby between the two first-class counties bordering the English Channel, Hampshire and Sussex.
Despite the neighbourly geography of the two counties, the drive between The Ageas Bowl and Hove is the better part of two hours – a fact worth remembering ahead of The Hundred.
Sussex arrive in good mood. Two wins from their opening two Vitality Blast matches took them top of the South Group and already they look to be fulfilling expectations thrust upon them going into the tournament.
Their win at Essex on the opening night proved convincing, with Sussex taking the final five wickets for just 15 runs, while a dominant victory at Glamorgan saw half-centuries from Laurie Evans and skipper Luke Wright.
Both came away from home while Hampshire have played their solitary fixture at The Ageas Bowl. Slumping at one stage to 32-7, they lost to Glamorgan by 63 runs. Having claimed white-ball silverware just days before, they would have expected better.
Still, their record against the Sharks will be of encouragement: they’ve lost just two of the last 15 matches between the sides, although Hampshire haven’t beaten them at home since 2014.
Against Glamorgan, Hampshire’s batsmen collapsed quicker than a building in a high-budget action film. Their top three is capable of providing explosive batting but with Sam Northeast in the middle order, Hampshire have a player who can utilise either power-hitting or play the role of the anchor. His four Blast half-centuries last season came with a lowest strike rate of 137 and a highest of 200. Hampshire play an attacking brand of cricket and, regardless of how well it comes off, Northeast will be crucial to that.
Luke Wright has proven his quality in this format time and again, and his 53-ball 88 at Cardiff set a platform for Sussex cruising to victory. Of his five domestic centuries, one came at this ground four years ago, while he’s passed 50 on two other occasions against Hampshire. Having stepped down as club captain halfway through last season, he skippers in the Blast and will be eager to continue leading from the front. If he fires, Sussex will be in a good position.
Hampshire have named an unchanged 14-man squad from last week’s defeat to Glamorgan. Reece Topley last week became Hampshire’s third player to be ruled out for the remainder of the season with a back injury, alongside Mason Crane and Brad Taylor.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Lewis McManus (wk), Kyle Abbott, Tom Alsop, Gareth Berg, Liam Dawson, Sean Ervine, Colin Munro, Sam Northeast, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rilee Rossouw, Ryan Stevenson, Joe Weatherley, Chris Wood
Chris Jordan, fresh from international duty, comes back into the squad in place of George Garton. It’s an otherwise unchanged squad from Sussex’s first two games, with Tymal Mills and Stiaan van Zyl still absent through injury.
Sussex squad: Luke Wright (c), Michael Burgess (wk), Jofra Archer, Will Beer, Danny Briggs, Tom Bruce, Laurie Evans, Chris Jordan, Rashid Khan, Delray Rawlins, Ollie Robinson, Phil Salt, David Wiese
Weather and conditions
Isolated showers could hit the south coast — an almost unthinkable suggestion following weeks of dry weather — prior to the game but it’s expected to remain dry throughout the evening, with favourable temperatures of 21°C.
Date: 12th July 2018
Ground: The Ageas Bowl
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 10/11, Sussex 10/11