Dimi Mascarenhas has asked his Hampshire players to stand up and be counted after their first Friends Life t20 loss of the season.
The Royals went down to a shock eight-run defeat to previously winless Kent on home soil yesterday after turning in an inspid batting display.
Chasing Kent’s lowly total of 143 for eight, not even the returning Neil McKenzie’s regular rescue act could dig his team out of trouble on this occasion, despite a brave 47 from the South African.
But after Michael Carberry (35) and Sean Ervine (27), there was little to write home about from the Royals’ batting line-up as they stumbled to 135 for eight.
‘It’s fair to say we are not quite firing on all cylinders,’ said skipper Mascarenhas.
‘We have won a few games easily but we have scraped through in a couple.
‘I would like to see more consistent performances throughout – especially with the bat.
‘At the moment, if you are looking at who is batting well, you would only say Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie.
‘If you take those two out of our team, I dare say we wouldn’t have won one game so far.’
Having turned in a good bowling performance, the odds were short on another successful Hampshire run-chase at the midway point in the contest.
Mascarenhas said: ‘We would love to chase 144 every day of the week.
‘From a bowling and fielding perspective, I thought it was pretty good.
‘I thought we went okay with the ball but to bat like that on our home turf is not acceptable really.
‘No disrespect to Kent, they have rested quite a few players and we should back ourselves to get 144 on any wicket against them.
‘Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be but I suppose it’s good to get it out of the way and gives us a chance to gather some momentum.’
While McKenzie and Sean Ervine looked like they had swung the game back in the home side’s favour in the closing stages, the Zimbabwean holed out in the deep and the Royals then crumbled.
Mascarenhas added: ‘Macca and Slug (Ervine) played beautifully towards the end and it was a shame they couldn’t see us over the line. If Slug hadn’t got out, I think we would have won.
‘I would have backed him to win us the game.
‘He played a really good innings and the 18th over was a really good over for them when they got back on top.
‘It was always going to be tough from there.’
Considering Hampshire’s long unbeaten run, which stretched 16 games in domestic t20 cricket, the Royals captain also felt it was better to lose a game in the group stages, rather than in a knockout tie.
He said: ‘It’s our first loss. It’s a shame it’s at home but we have to pick ourselves up, work hard and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again on Friday against Essex.
‘The last thing you want to do is to go undefeated and then lose a quarter-final.
‘At the moment, we are a long way from playing the perfect game and we’ve got things to work on going forward.
‘We’ve got a really tough game to come against Essex on Friday and they will be super hard to beat.’