Ervine has no regrets over call despite Hampshire defeat
Sean Ervine stood by his decision to bowl first after Hampshire fell just short in chasing down victory at Gloucestershire in an entertaining Royal One-Day Cup encounter.
The visitors won the toss but elected to put their opponents in to bat, with the hosts responding by firing their way to an imposing 352 for three.
That was thanks mainly to a sensational 242-run opening stand between Chris Dent (123) and Michael Klinger (166 not out).
The task was always going to be a difficult one for Hampshire but in the end they fell only 10 runs short following some impressive hitting lower down the order, not least Gareth Andrew whose unbeaten 70-run knock proved to be in vain at the death.
Stand-in skipper Ervine said: ‘There are no regrets about asking Gloucestershire to bat first.
‘We like to chase, but were below par in the field.
‘When you think how close we got in the end it would have only needed a one percent improvement in our bowling and fielding to get us the victory.
‘They had two batsmen who went on to big scores and that is what you need in this competition.
‘It’s a busy week and we can’t afford to dwell on a poor result.’
Dent was in top form from the outset with a series of sweetly-struck boundaries through the off-side.
The left-hander rarely looked better as he moved to a brilliant 95-ball hundred, with Klinger content to play a supporting role.
The Gloucestershire skipper only took charge after Dent had fallen to a skied catch at extra cover by Shahid Afridi off Liam Dawson at the end of a memorable innings.
From then on Klinger moved into top gear himself, reaching his 15th List A century off 115 deliveries.
Klinger passed his previous best List A score of 140 not out by blasting his biggest six off Tino Best, the ball smacking against the top floor of the flats at the Ashley Down Road End.
Ian Cockbain contributed a breezy 29, but it had basically been an exhilarating two-man show as Gloucestershire took a grip.
Hampshire began their reply solidly with an opening stand of 41 before Jimmy Adams fell to Liam Norwell for 22.
Tom Alsop went on to an impressive half-century off 39 balls, with five fours and a six, but the very next delivery from Benny Howell saw him carelessly drive a catch to extra cover.
Ervine blasted successive sixes off Howell in the 19th over as he moved to the quickest fifty of the match off 32 balls, with three sixes and two fours.
Will Smith (38) helped add 78 in 11 overs before driving Kieran Noema-Barnett to mid-on where Tom Smith initially fumbled, but grabbed the ball at the third attempt to his clear relief.
Noema-Barnett then struck the key blow with his innocuous looking medium-pace as Ervine miscued a cross-batted shot to short fine-leg.
And Hampshire’s last realistic hope was dispelled when Afridi fell cheaply to Craig Miles.
Dawson’s 47-ball half-century and Andrew’s blistering late assault were spirited efforts, but proved too little too late as 30 were still required off the final over.
Andrew picked up two more sixes in it to take his tally of maximums to five in a 41-ball blitz that deserved more reward.