Hants’ miserable start to the season continues

Michael Bates is caught and bowled by Northants' Lee Daggett
Michael Bates is caught and bowled by Northants' Lee Daggett
Suzie Bates

Vipers lose as rain puts dampener on home clash

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Hampshire needed a result or at least a performance from their CB40 clash with Northamptonshire.

They got neither.

A seven-wicket defeat was about as comprehensive as you can get – the fifth time they have tasted defeat in nine Championship and CB40 games this season.

Just one solitary victory and three Championship draws makes for sorry reading for a side who had designs on challenging in all three competitions this season.

On this evidence, they are miles away.

Then again, you could have said something similar last term and they turned it around to lift the Friends Provident t20 in a much-improved second half of the campaign.

To do it once is impressive.

To do it twice is distinctly unlikely.

But the nature of sport would suggest that takes only one result and sometimes even one moment in a game to set off on a different trajectory.

Once again, the batting was to blame for their latest demise.

Although the bowlers failed to dig their team-mates out of trouble this time as well.

A score of 200 for nine from 40 overs looked well short of a competitive total.

And Niall O’Brien’s brilliant 121 underlined that there were no demons in the Rose Bowl pitch.

The Royals innings started badly with Johann Myburgh out in the first over to the first delivery he faced.

And while Benny Howell (31) and James Vince (58) put on 79 for the second wicket, batsmen then fell with alarming regularity with only Liam Dawson (41) making any significant contribution thereafter.

Neil McKenzie (25) and Sean Ervine (11) will be particularly disappointed with their dismissals – McKenzie paddling round the corner to the fielder stationed at short fine leg and Ervine lobbing up the simplest of caught-and-bowled chances.

Northants, meanwhile, cruised home thanks mainly to Irish wicketkeeper batsman O’Brien’s terrific 94-ball knock which included 10 fours and three sixes.

Dimi Mascarenhas, playing his first game at the Rose Bowl for almost a year after his Achilles injury, struck the first blow with a caught and bowled to remove Rob Newton (eight) with the score at 23 for one.

O’Brien and Stephen Peters (40) then put on 79 before the latter was trapped by Dawson.

But Alex Wakely (19 not out) played an intelligent supporting role as O’Brien cut loose, only to miss out on seeing his side home when he was bowled by Simon Jones.

Sadly for Hampshire, it was too little, too late as the Steelbacks got home with a massive 31 balls to spare.