Hampshire hoping for home comforts as Ageas Bowl welcomes first one-day county crowd for 22 months for T20 Blast tie against Middlesex
Hampshire tonight play their first one-day home game in front of supporters for 22 months.
Back on August 30 2019, a crowd watched on as James Vince’s unbeaten 66 helped the hosts to an eight-wicket win against Middlesex in the T20 Blast.
All these months on, and Middlesex return to The Ageas Bowl for the first of seven successive Hampshire home matches in the same competition.
And it’s fair to say Vince’s men need to win the vast majority of those games if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Hampshire slumped to the bottom of the South group yesterday after Middlesex defeat Glamorgan by seven wickets – opener Steven Eskinazi following up scores of 102 not out (v Essex) and 64 (v Surrey) with an undefeated 91 at Radlett.
Last Friday’s dismal seven-run loss against Somerset at Taunton was Hampshire’s fourth in five completed Blast matches in 2021.
It was a game they should easily have won, after debutant Colin de Grandhomme had put them in a great position
The Kiwi struck 66 off just 34 balls and when he was out Hampshire needed 35 for victory from five overs with six wickets in hand.
Yet with Marchant de Lange conceding just 13 runs off his four overs, and Lewis Gregory conceding just three in the final over of the game, Hampshire finished on 165-8 in reply to the hosts’ 172-9.
That was a total de Grandhomme felt ‘was at least 20 below par and one we should have chased down easily.
‘Losing close games hurts more and we had this one in the bag.’
That was certainly true, but the loss continued Hampshire’s dire form in T20 cricket.
Between 2011-2015 the county won 41 Blast group games, out of 64, and lost just 16.
They created a county record in reaching six successive Final Days between 2010-2015 inclusive, and reached a seventh in 2017.
Since then, though, Hampshire have won just 10 of their last 39 completed group games, over four seasons, and lost 26.
Tonight’s game against Middlesex is the first of three Blast home games in five days for Hampshire, who also host Surrey on Wednesday and Gloucestershire on Friday.
It will be a tough week for Hampshire. The pressure will be on to beat fellow strugglers Middlesex, while Gloucestershire and Surrey are two of the top three teams in the nine-county qualifying group.
Hampshire have named a 13-man squad for the three matches which includes two teenage batsmen, Toby Albert and Tom Prest, and 20-year-old seam bowler Scott Currie. The latter, after just one wicket in his first four T20 games for the county, bagged 4-31 at Taunton.
Neither Albert or Prest have made their Hampshire 1st XI debuts in any competition, but if the county don’t start winning this week they could well get a chance as Vince starts to look to the future.
Due to Government restrictions, only Hampshire members and T20 Blast passport holders - a pre-paid ticket covering all seven home games - will be able to watch this week’s three scheduled games.
Depending on what the Government announce on July 5 will determine whether non-members and passport holders are allowed to watch Hampshire’s final four home Blast games against Somerset (July 9), Sussex and Essex (both July 16) and Glamorgan (July 18).
Hampshire (from): Vince, Short, Weatherley, de Grandhomme, Fuller, McManus, Albert, Prest, Stevenson, Currie, Wheal, Wood, Crane.