A Cricket Super Sunday: Hampshire Royals tie with Essex Eagles in final ball thriller


Whilst it was hardly comparable to the Ashes drama experienced at Headingly today, the Hampshire Royals smashed 42 runs from the last three overs to get an unlikely tie with the Essex Eagles.

James Vince won the toss and inserted the Eagles into bat for what was a must win fixture for either county. With both sides potentially needing three victories from their remaining three matches, we were approaching the business end of the Vitality T20 Blast.

The dangerous pairing of Tom Westley and Cameron Delport strode to the crease to get things up and running for the Essex Eagles. The latter had been in sensational form throughout the campaign with the notable innings a blistering 38-ball century against Surrey.

However, it was the Royals who exploded out of the traps with Chris Wood repeating his old but useful trick of conjuring up a wicket in his first over and in fact, it was the first ball. The left-armer trapped Westley on the pads for a golden duck.

Dangerman Delport hardly fared any better. With Kyle Abbott into the attack the following over, the Essex batsman was dismissed for just one run after an excellent catch from keeper Lewis McManus. An inside edge flew to the right of the Royals glovemen who had to change direction quickly to snaffle the catch. It left the visitors plunged into crisis at 3-2.

Former Hants man Adam Wheater combined with Dan Lawrence to aid the fightback, restoring a dismal beginning of the powerplay to 40-2 at the end of it.

The spin duo of Liam Dawson and Tabraiz Shamsi seemed to have slowed the Essex charge to a halt in the middle overs with the pair working in tandem at either end. Nevertheless, Wheater (34) and Lawrence (69) were relying well on innoative strokes to find the boundary during their 83-run partnership.

Despite a successive fifty in the competition for Dan Lawrence which came off 37 balls, the home side never released the shackles and kept sustaining the pressure. The Essex century was brought up in the 15th over but looked set to post an under par score. When Lawrence was eventually dismissed for a magnificent 69 of 47 balls, he had brought up his 1000th run in T20 cricket, with an impressive strike rate of 145 during that period.

After a slight acceleration from the away side, they lost a cluster of wickets at the back-end of the innings largely thanks to experienced seamer Kyle Abbott’s figures of 3-15. The Eagles set Hampshire 141 for victory.


Abbott was the pick of the Hampshire bowlers – photo: @hantscricket

Captain James Vince was dismissed on the boundary for one, mirroring their opponents horrific start; it was slow going, finding themselves 5-2 after Roussouw (1) joined his opening partner in the changing rooms the over after.

Content with digging in Ben ‘Stokesesque’ but without the glory, the Royals stutterred to 27-2 by the end of the powerplay.

The enormous glaring issue the Hampshire side faced was their inability to find the boundary. In the first 10 overs and 50 runs scored, only one shot went past the rope. Despite heaving plenty of slower balls to the leg-side, Northeast and Dawson (38) continued to pick out the fielders. Requiring 70 to win from the last seven overs, the equation was pretty clear for the pair.

Dawson fell not long after but Northeast brought up his fifty at a run a ball. It was a turgid, curious T20 innings from the former Kent captain considering the circumstances.

As an Australian, Adam Zampa had his day of misery compounded after Northeast and new arrival James Fuller (16) were dropped within the space of two balls in what were relatively simple catches.

The penultimate over proved to be huge for Northeast and Hampshire. With the help of three wides in a row from Aaron Beard, Northeast smashed three boundaries to take 20 from the over.

With 11 needed from six balls, the two sides were in the defining part of the respective campaigns. Northeast smacked a boundary to leave McManus facing Mohammad Amir requiring three to win from three balls. And then, it all came down to the last ball.

Replicating England’s World Cup triumph, the Royals needed two. Lewis McManus could only a manage to hit a  single to short leg and left his partner Northeast (73) stranded and eventually ran out.It was an excellent game and an excellent day’s cricket in England….

Team Lineups

Hampshire Royals: Vince (c), Roussouw, Northeast, Dawson, Holland, Morris, Fuller, McManus (Wk), Shamsi, Abbott, Wood.

Essex Eagles: Westley, Delport, Wheater (Wk), ten Doeschate, Bopara, Walter, Harmer (c), Amir, Beard, Zampa.



About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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