Essex stun Hampshire to book Blast final berth

Brian Jeeves
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Essex v Hampshire – Vitality Blast Finals Day – Edgbaston Stadium – Report

Hampshire 170 (20.0 overs)

Essex 15/5 (11.3 overs)

Essex won the toss and elected to bowl

Essex won by five wickets (Duckworth/Lewis Method)

Matt Critchley and Simon Harmer hit huge sixes in the final over to help Essex overcome Hampshire and secure a Vitality Blast final place against either Surrey or Somerset.

Matt Critchley (Courtesy of Essex Cricket)

Defending champions Hampshire arrived in the second city for a record tenth finals day appearance, and they got off to a flying start scoring 43 for the loss of one wicket off the opening three overs. Nevertheless, with Sam Cook and Shane Snater striking quickly to remove Ben McDermott and James Vince – Sams and Harmer displayed safe hands in the field as Esse redressed the balance.

Hampshire had reached 55/2 by the end of the power play, but the Essex attack had started turning the screw. Critchley returned figures of two for 22 from his four-over spell, while Harmer and Snater were reasonably economical as the run rate continued to drop and wickets tumbled.

Joe Weatherley carried the fight, batting beautifully for his 63 off 39 balls. The final two overs gleaned 28 as Hampshire finished on 170 for seven. Benny Howell played his part, contributing 22 from 11. 

Adam Rossington found himself back in the hutch off just the third ball of Essex’s response, caught by Weatherley off a ball from Wood. Soon after, all and sundry followed, taking cover after a heavy shower took hold of proceedings with Essex on 19 for 1. When play resumed, they were handed a revised target of 115 off twelve overs, a further 96 runs from 55 deliveries.

The writing appeared to be on the wall. Significantly in arrears following the power play. Michael Pepper, Dan Lawrence Paul Walter were dismissed within the space of six balls to leave Essex floundering on 50 for three. Ben Fuller and James Turner did the damage as Hampshire honed in on a final berth.

But there was to be a twist in the tale. Sams and Critchley put on 45 for the fifth wicket with some big hitting before the former was caught by Ross Whiteley off Ellis for 29. 

With Harmer now at the crease with Critchley, Essex required thirteen off the final over to snatch what had earlier seemed an unlikely victory.

Having seen his first delivery smashed for six by Critchley, Ellis and his Hampshire teammates could only look on in disbelief as Harmer did likewise with the third to hand Essex a five-wicket victory on the Duckworth/Lewis Method.

Simon Harmer (Courtesy of Essex Cricket)

Speaking to Brian Halford from the ECB Reporters Network, Essex skipper, Harmer said: “Matt Critchley batted superbly and the six off the first ball of the last over really took the pressure off. When I went down to face I just took a risk and banked on him bowling a slower ball and luckily he did and I connected.

“We had our slowest start of the comp with the bat but felt we were in the mix after the rain break, chasing a smallish total. Then we lost some wickets which set us back but Critch and Daniel Sams batted brilliantly, striking it from ball one. Dan’s innings’ was huge for us.

“It’s great to be in the final but there are still areas we need to improve. We dropped a couple of catches late on and they can cost you, and our bowlers didn’t quite hit their lengths early on but I thought we were very good through the middle of the innings.

“We have batters playing well and then you look at Adam Rossington and what he is capable of and he has had a quiet tournament so far and is due a score.”

The final is scheduled for 6:45pm this evening, subject to no further interference from the weather.

Essex: AM Rossington (WK), DW Lawrence, MS Pepper, RJ Das, PI Walter, MJJ Critchley, DR Sams, SR Harmer (Capt), S Snater, AP Beard, SJ Cook

Hampshire: BR McDermott (WK), JM Vince (Capt), TJ Prest, JJ Weatherley, LA Dawson, RA Whiteley, JK Fuller, BAC Howell, CP Wood, NT Ellis, JA Turner

Umpires: MJ Saggers and RJ Warren (Third Umpire: NJ Llong and Fourth Umpire: SJ O’Shaughnessy)

Scorers: AE Choat and FC Newnham

Match Referee: DA Cosker

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk