Giles White insists he will keep the faith with his Hampshire side – despite the Royals slumping to a second straight Friends Life t20 home defeat.
Following Monday’s loss to Middlesex, Hampshire went down by three runs at the Ageas Bowl to Kent last night as they made a mess of what appeared to be a straightforward run chase.
Having restricted the Spitfires to 151 for five from their 20 overs – with Dimi Mascarenhas (two for 21) and Chris Wood (two for 24) the pick of the bowlers – it was the Royals’ batsmen who inexplicably ground to a halt midway through their reply.
James Vince looked bright for his 31, while Michael Carberry (28) and Jimmy Adams (27) also got themselves in, but failed to kick on to make a match-winning knock, despite some ropey Kent fielding as the visitors shelled three simple catches early in the innings.
The Royals were left batting with the handbrake on in the middle overs, though, going through a 35-ball boundary drought at one stage and struggling to find any rhythm.
While they attempted an unlikely rescue act in the final two overs through Neil McKenzie (18 not out), they left themselves with simply too much to do in the final stretch.
But even though Simon Katich and Liam Dawson find themselves out of the side at present, White is not about to hit the panic button.
Hampshire’s manager said: ‘We’re three games into the competition and they’ve all shown quality over the years in this competition.
‘They’ve all played a part in that so you trust the players.
‘We’re just a little bit off our game at the moment.
‘There was a lot of good stuff but we fell short in the end.
‘We lost our way a little bit in the middle and, although there were a couple of lusty blows towards the end that got us close, the reality was that we got it wrong.
‘We didn’t keep the scoreboard ticking over after a good start.
‘It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact point but after 10 overs, we lost our way for five overs and lost wickets at the wrong time.
‘There are no excuses – it’s one of those things with t20 cricket.
‘You can think you’ve got a game in the bag and then lose it.
‘This one has managed to get away from us, unfortunately.’
Hampshire have real pedigree in this format with two consecutive finals day appearances.
After victory on their home patch in 2010, they went out at the semi-final stage to Somerset a year ago.
But their task of making it three in a row already looks like a tall order with no wins from their first two matches.
White, however, remains upbeat on his side’s chances.
He said: ‘You are disappointed to lose any game but that’s t20 cricket. You can also get wins back-to-back and that’s what we need to do now.
‘We’re still very much in the competition.
‘It’s been a bit stop-start. We’ve had one game rained off, one postponed and it’s just getting going.
‘We’re not far away. We are playing well for periods of the game and then not so well for other periods. It’s those parts that are contributing to the outcome at the moment.’
While Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi is still not expected to return in time for tomorrow’s reverse fixture at Kent, White has thrown down the gauntlet to the players who are available to step things up.
He said: ‘We take it day by day but we’ve got to win without him. You can’t rely on one player and we have to do it without Shahid.
‘When he comes, hopefully we’re in a position where we can push and have a good finish to the competition. We’ve now got to look at upping our game a little bit.
‘It’s a big game at Kent now and we need to turn up.’