Two in-form 50 over sides will do battle at Trent Bridge
When in mid-season Leicestershire parted company with their long-serving coach Paul Nixon under mysterious and acrimonious circumstances, few could have anticipated that, come September, they would be making the short trip to Trent Bridge to play in their first one day final for 22 years. If they win the Metro Bank One Day Cup, it will be Leicestershire’s first one day trophy for 38 years. In the intervening period, they have won three T20 titles; but the last of those was all of 12 years ago.
Joint coaches Alfonso Thomas and James Taylor have overseen a remarkable campaign in which seven out of eight group matches were won and Gloucestershire were sent packing by a six wicket margin in the semi-final.
Like their opponents, Hampshire won seven out of their eight Group matches; but the match they lost was to Leicestershire, which is not a good omen. Finishing second in their Group because of net run rate, they had to play quarter and semi-final matches to get through to the Final. But having won a close contest with Worcestershire in the quarters (306 played 296), they utterly demolished Warwickshire in the semis, sinking the Bears for just 93 with Liam Dawson taking 7-15. They knocked off the runs with more than 30 overs to spare.
Having between them won 17 out of 19 matches so far in the competition, if both sides play up to that form in the Final, it should be quite a battle!
Leicestershire have four batters who have averaged over 50 in the tournament, with South Africans Colin Ackerman and Wiaan Mulder averaging over 70. Mulder has been a wicket-taker too, with 12 to his name. Veteran Chris Wright has 16.
Maybe, however, the key man for the Foxes is their captain, Lewis Hill. Leicestershire born, he has led the team with pride and passion. Walking out at the head of his team at Trent Bridge will be a big moment.
Whereas Leicestershire have six players who have played in every match so far and two more who have missed just one, Hampshire have only three ever-presents. Dawson, the semi-final star, was playing just his second match in the 2023 competition.
Fletcha Middleton, Joe Weatherley, Nick Gubbins and Aneurin Donald have all scored well. But if Liam Dawson can bowl anything like as well as he did in the semi-final, he could be the Hampshire key man and match-winner.
Leicestershire squad: Lewis Hill (c), Rishi Patel, Sam Evans, Sol Budinger, Colin Ackermann, Wiann Mulder, Tom Scriven, Louis Kimber, Harry Swindell, Chris Wright, Josh Hull, Matt Salisbury, Uttam Ramji, Will Davis, Roman Walker
Hampshire squad: Nick Gubbins (c), Toby Albert, Keith Barker, Ben Brown, Mason Crane, Scott Currie, Liam Dawson, Aneurin Donald, Joseph Eckland, Ian Holland, Fletcha Middleton, Felix Organ, Tom Prest, Joe Weatherley, Brad Wheal
Weather and Conditions
After early morning mist, the day should be fine with maximum temperatures around 19 degrees. Whichever side bats first will hope that the 11 am start will have allowed the mist to clear so that the bowlers don’t get too much advantage from autumnal conditions.
Saturday 16 September 2023
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 4/7; Leicestershire 5/4