By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
This was a match that was disappointing on various levels. On one level, it was never a contest. When the side batting first is so superior and sets a target that, within a few overs, is obviously beyond the capability of the chasing side, the only real excitement is about how significant the margin of victory will be. The match though was frustrating on a different level too: we have watched James Vince give occasional flashes of the form that explained why the selectors were prepared to provide him with so many chances for England; here, Vince just destroyed Yorkshire, almost single-handedly. 171 from 126 balls was a pretty brutal demonstration of the skills that the England team had been hoping to see but never did. It could be that James Vince is one of those frustrating players who are a destroyer at County level but lacks that little spark of mental steel to be equally successful internationally: in that case, bad luck to the County attacks which have to face him in vengeful mode.
The match was also disappointing on another level. With England playing an ODI series v Australia and the ECB playing a series of matches against India A and West Indies A, Yorkshire were missing no fewer than five of their first choice XI. It is a measure of Yorkshire’s depth of resources that they could still put up a pretty useful XI, but it is also a measure of how the County game is valued that a Cup Semi-Final can be so devalued.
It is also a measure of just how dominant Vince and Hampshire were that they will have seen their final total of 348-9 as a little disappointing. With ten overs to go, Hampshire were 270-4, Vince was 145*, Dawson was getting himself set, and successive overs went for 17 and 15. Hampshire must have felt that 380 was well within their capabilities. Suddenly though, just when the situation could have got really ugly for the Yorkshire bowlers, there was a strange patch in the run-in with the brakes on full, as Dawson and McManus struggled to get the ball away and Vince lost the strike. Then Dawson fell and Vince, maybe betraying some frustrating at the stalling innings, fell too and the slog did start finally. Boundaries were hit, and wickets fell in the closing overs as batsman and bowler seemed to agree “you go, or I go”. The innings closed with Reece Topley coming in for the last ball and dispatching it for six, which was symptomatic of the “the ball, or me approach” in the frenetic last four overs.
Ben Coad was the bowler to come out of the innings with the most credit. 2-48, including the early wicket of Jimmy Adams (the English version, not the former West Indies skipper). Strangely though, he did not get his full quota, although Adam Lyth, who took some punishment and, at the other end of the spectrum, Karl Carver, whose six overs went for 66, bowled 11 between them. You rather get the impression that Steve Patterson miscounted: it was that sort of day for the Tykes.
Needing to score at 7-an-over, Yorkshire badly needed a good start. Chris Wood and Dale Steyn made sure that they did not get it. At 15-2 after just 4.4 overs you sensed that Yorkshire needed a miracle and this was one day when they were not going to get one. In the group stages, Pujara had had a run of 82, 73, 101 and 75* before going quiet again. Now, back from a lightning trip to India to play in Afghanistan’s Test debut, he needed to anchor the innings for Yorkshire to get close but fell for a 4-ball duck. Kohler-Cadmore and Ballance, tried to rebuild, although at the cost of a rapidly rising asking rate. It was a policy that might have paid off if one or both could have gone on to a big score but, when Ballance fell for 25, it was 47-3 after 11.4, and that looked very much like “game over”. Kohler-Cadmore followed at the end of the sixteenth over for a cautious 21 from 36 balls, and the rest were left far too much to do. No fewer than five batsmen scored between 21 and 26, but none could push on. This was a pity because Jack Tattersall was fighting hard at the other end, but with little support. Had it not been for the number of regulars missing, Tattersall would undoubtedly not have got a game – he has been playing his trade in Yorkshire 2nd XI until the lack of 1st XI personnel became critical – but his 89 from 81 balls, as he tried to keep a sinking ship, afloat really caught the eye. With the asking rate already 10 and rising, the youngster was never going to turn the game with his innings, but he showed a cool head and kept the score respectable. There was just a moment when it looked as if his persistence might pay off as Tim Bresnan came in and decided to have a go: he may no longer be the player that he was when he was a bowling all-rounder for England but, had he got up a head of steam, he could, just possibly, have turned the match, with Tattersall keeping the other end up. Sadly, for Yorkshire, it was just a mirage.
Dawson (4-47) and Wood (3-46) applied the last rites, and the innings subsided quickly and quietly when Tattersall fell finally in the 41st over.
Hampshire now take on Kent at Lord’s, in what is being termed the “penultimate One Day Final”. When I was a kid, the Lord’s Finals of the Gillette Cup and, later, the NatWest, could have been sold out many times over. Now, there are plenty of empty seats on the day. It is a sad end for a competition that was the centre-point of the summer for decades, but which had been in decline even before the knock-out format ended. Let’s hope, at least, that these two less-fashionable sides can serve up a game to remember.
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