The Hampshire Royals swept to a fifth win in a row as they continued their unbeaten start to the Friends Provident Twenty20 with a 9-run victory over the Gloucestershire Gladiators.
While they may be struggling elsewhere in the domestic game, Hampshire have been dominant so far in their attempt to retain the tournament which they won so dramatically against Somerset last year.
After losing the toss and being put into bat, Hampshire cruised to 169-4, with Neil McKenzie hitting 89 not out off of just 63 balls. Useful innings of 22 by Jimmy Adams and 21 from Sean Ervine gave the Royals bowlers a total to work with.
Gloucestershire, on their home ground, got off to a decent start with an early partnership of 47 leading them to 78-1, but by the 15 over mark young spinner Danny Briggs had pegged the Gladiators back to 102-4. Gloucestershire stayed in contention mainly thanks to captain Alex Gidman’s unbeaten innings of 43, but, needing 12 runs from the last 2 deliveries, Gidman could only manage a single from opposite number Dominic Cork’s bowling.
A lot of the pre-match hype had focused on the duel between bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan and match-winner Briggs. Murali – 19 years older, and the current highest wicket-taker in test match history – was overshadowed by the youngster, whose stock is on the rise after a series of impressive performances for both Hampshire and the England Lions. Briggs finished the match with figures of 2-26.
The recent performances of Hampshire should lead to an excellent atmosphere for the third test of England’s home series against Sri Lanka. The game is being held at the Rosebowl Cricket Ground, Southampton, from Thursday 16th June, and will be the first ever test match hosted on the South Coast.
Students should keep an eye out on news from the Rosebowl, as ticket prices are often cut to £5-£10 on matchdays, and free entry is usually offered in rain-affected matches.