In a little over a week, Hampshire Hawks will return to Edgbaston for the Vitality Blast Finals Day having comprehensively defeated the Bears by a massive 104 runs.
Whilst they may have felt that their total of 186-6 could prove within the range of the powerful Bears batting line-up, the reality was that the excellence of the Hampshire bowlers and a supine display by the Bears’ batters saw the home side all out for just 82 off 13.3 overs.
On a glorious summer’s evening in front of a crowd of around 10,000 at Edgbaston, Ben McDermott and James Vince gave the Hawks a flying start with a stand of 93 before both fell in the tenth over to Carlos Brathwaite. Vince was caught behind and McDermott played on. They had struck eight fours and six sixes between them. McDermott was the dominant partner with 61 off just 36 balls.
Of the three Bears spinners, it was the most junior partner, Dan Mousley, who starred with 1-31 off his four overs. By contrast, Danny Briggs and Jake Lintott were unimpressive, going for a combined 76 runs off their six overs.
After Tom Prest fell lbw to Mousley, Joe Weatherley and Ross Whiteley added 69. But some excellent ground fielding meant that the Hawks never fully accelerated and Carlos Brathwaite and Olly Stone dashed any hopes of a 200-plus total with three wickets in the last three overs.
All to play for at the halfway stage, it seemed. The Bears’ innings, however, stuttered and faltered like a politician trying to appear penitent without actually saying sorry. A combination of lively bowling, safe catching and, let’s be honest, abysmal shot selection by the Bears’ batsmen created a depressing spectacle for all but those fans who had journeyed from the South coast.
Paul Stirling, Sam Hain, Chris Benjamin and Dan Mousley were all out to mis-timed skiers while Adam Hose played right across a yorker from James Fuller. The ineptitude of the Bears’ batting was best exemplified by the sight of Alex Davies sprawled in his crease after losing his middle stump trying to scoop a straight ball from Brad Wheal.
James Fuller had the startling figures of 4-17 off his four overs. Brad Wheal took 2-9 from two overs and Brad Ellis managed to bowl eight dot balls out of the nine he delivered and took 3 wickets for four runs. For what it is worth, Adam Hose top-scored but he will hardly be celebrating his meagre 15 runs.
Overall, then, a triumphant night for the Hampshire Hawks and humiliation for the Bears whose fans made their way home before sunset.