We’ve met before | Hampshire


As the County face up to life back in the top-tier of domestic County Cricket, we look back at some memorable matches from the past against opposition we are scheduled to meet in the forthcoming campaign.

In this feature, two glorious games with Hampshire fall under the spotlight.

Essex v Hampshire at Chelmsford on  31 August, 1,2,3,September 1992. Essex won by 8 wickets.

Hampshire 233 (SD Udal 44, MD Marshall 39, PM Such 4-23 & 229 (AN Aymes 65, DR Pringle 3-42, JH Childs 3-67),. Essex 298 (P Prichard 82, JJB Lewis 43, JH Childs 43, PM Such 35, U Turner 5-81, JR Ayling 3-44) & 162-2 (JP Stephenson 83*, P Prichard 55*)

There were three matches remaining when Essex went into their final home match of the season needing 22 points to be certain of retaining their County Championship crown and that was precisely the number that they achieved with the victory against Hampshire. The visitors occupied the crease for the entire opening day of this four-day game but found runs hard to come by against accurate bowling on a slow pitch that was taking some turn. Paul Prichard apart, the Essex batsmen, also struggled to impose themselves in their first innings and when last man John Childs came to the crease to join number 10, Peter Such, Essex were still 14 runs adrift of their opponents.

However, a swashbuckling and highly entertaining tenth wicket liaison worth 79 runs gained the hosts a significant lead to the delight of the home supporters. The pair treated the Hampshire attack, including West Indian legendary fast bowler Malcolm Marshall, with some disdain.  Such later recalled: “During my stay at the crease, I felt a combination of nerves and fear as the finest bowler in the world was running in at me. It’s not nice trying to bat against someone like Malcolm Marshall when you are number nine, 10 or 11 because you don’t have the same reactions or degree of ability as other batsmen.

“I decided to have a slog at him – backing away to leg and thrashing to the off-side. We were always going to play our shots but fortunately, we had put on a crucial 70 or 80 before one of us got out.”

When Hampshire batted again, their batsmen once more struggled and after 35 overs they had slumped to 63 for 7 in front of a gathering of media all ready to report on another County Championship title for Essex.

However, they were forced to wait after Adrian Aymes, Jon Ayling and Shaun Udal provided some much-needed backbone to the innings and at the end of the third day, the visitors had improved to 181 for 8. It was the arrival of the send new ball on the final morning that accounted for the obstinate tail-end order leaving Essex with a target of 165 runs to win from 80 overs.

Essex were soon 32 for 2 having lost Graham Gooch for 19 and Jon Lewis who made 4 but John Stephenson and Paul Prichard comfortably saw their side home without too many concerns. The winning runs were collected just before the scheduled tea interval as storm clouds gathered to the south-west. One hour after the conclusion of the match, it was pouring with rain.

Two Championship matches still had to be played, Essex beat Derbyshire in the first and then lost to Gloucestershire by 7 wickets but their title had been the result of consistently effective performances throughout the season illustrated by the winning margin of 41 points ahead of runners-up Kent in the final Championship table.

Essex v Hampshire at Chelmsford on 29, 30, April, 1 May 2013. Essex won by 4 wickets.

Hampshire 197 (SM Ervine 60) & 199 (JM Vince 67, LA Dawson 52, DD Masters 5-41), Essex 254 (GR Napier 74, AN Cook 59) & 143-6 (GR Napier 78*).

An absorbing low-scoring and highly entertaining game provided a tense conclusion with a day to spare as fortunes swung to and fro. Alastair Cook made his first appearance of the summer but it was Graham Napier that attracted the headlines. David Masters and Reece Topley collected a combined seven wickets after the visitors had won the toss but failed to take advantage of first knock losing their last six wickets for 68 runs. In reply, the home side stuttered to 72 for 5 and although Cook grafted his way to a dogged half-century, it was all-rounder Napier’s 74 together with an unbeaten 40 by Tim Phillips that earned Essex a defining first innings lead of 57 runs after the pair posted 87 for the ninth wicket.

David Masters then took his match tally to 9 for 70 with the last 5 Hampshire second innings wickets falling for 11 runs after Ravi Bopara accounted for three of those victims. Requiring a modest 143 to win, Essex slumped to 31 for 6 inside 12 overs including the loss of Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara in three deliveries; the former as a result of a horrendous run out mix-up when attempting a third run with Bobby Quiney. At one point, both were heading for the same end before Westley turned but was left stranded by the throw from George Bailey. It was the second time in the match that the opener had been run out.

Bopara failed to score and then Quiney wafted outside off stump and was caught behind for 10 to leave Essex 24 for 4 which became 24 for 5 next ball when Ben Foakes was given out lbw to James Tomlinson to the first delivery he faced.

The loss of James Foster for 5, the second needless run out victim, left the home side on rocky ground but Napier joined Pettini to steer them into calmer waters and then onto dry land.

Playing with his usual gusto, Napier hit 78 not out and Pettini (35 not out) as the pair forged a winning and unbroken stand worth 112 having claimed the extra half hour and secured the final 13 runs required for victory and a haul of 21 points.

Napier said afterwards: “We’d got ourselves in a bit of a hole at 31 for 6 when we set off to chase down the target but it’s a situation that suits my style of batting. We then staged a little counter-attack and that put them on the back foot and they had to then start attacking us which creates gaps in the field and an opportunity to score runs.

“I felt in good form and I backed myself to get off to a  good start which I managed to do but the support from Mark Pettini was very important because it was vital for him to hold up the other end to see us home.

“We got a lot of the hard work done and put ourselves within sight of victory then we had to make a decision as to whether we wanted to stay on and finish the game that evening. We stayed calm and collected and that was Mark’s experience coming to the fore.

“As a former captain, he used his knowledge just to keep the situation calm as we kept ticking the runs off one by one. The closer you get, suddenly they come along quicker and quicker.

“You have to give full credit to Dave Masters who bowled his heart out for us to get nine wickets in the match and put us into a position to go on and win the game. It then just needed one of the guys to put in a decent show with the bat and it happened to be me.”

Masters was delighted to have played his part in the success returning match figures of 9 for 70 to set up the victory opportunity.

“As a squad of bowlers, we bowled well throughout which we haven’t always done but this time, we were terrific,” he stated. “That obviously makes me more dangerous as a bowler because good bowling was coming from both ends.

“We kept to our disciplines throughout which was fantastic and that’s what successful bowling is all about, doing it as a unit and not individuals. As a bowling attack, we were relentless and gave them nothing.  Yes. I got nine wickets in the match but everyone played their part and did brilliantly to help set up the win.”