Blast From The Past: Essex v Hampshire


This is the fifth part of a series, with a look back at a memorable game from the past against each of Essex’s 2024 home Vitality Blast opponents. This latest instalment looks back to a dramatic win against Hampshire on the south coast from 2016.

Essex (153-6) beat Hampshire (150-7) by three runs
The Rose Bowl, 08 July 2016

Scorecard: View Here

The news that a Pakistani-born all-rounder had dominated a match in which Shahid Afridi was playing would lead to many naturally assuming a link between the two.

However, on the occasion of Essex squeaking out a nail-biting win away to Hampshire in July 2016, it wasn’t ‘Boom Boom’ who stood out in Hampshire yellow, but in fact Ashar Zaidi for the visitors.

Zaidi, who was born in Karachi but qualified as a local player during the three seasons he spent with Essex, glued the Eagles’ innings together with 47 off 43, before taking 2/16 from four overs with the ball.

He was supported while batting by Tom Westley, who hit a swift 18-ball 33, and then in the visitors’ defence of their total by Matt Quinn, who also took two wickets, including the huge scalp of Afridi.

In the early stages of the contest, observers could have been forgiven for assuming they were about to see Essex, who had won the toss and opted to bat, hit a far bigger total than they eventually posted.

Overcoming the early loss of Kishen Velani, Westley and Jesse Ryder took the attack to the Hampshire bowlers in the powerplay, striking a combined ten fours in the opening six overs to reach 67-1.

It was the introduction of Liam Dawson at that point, however, that derailed things somewhat, as both fell to the spinner and the Eagles were only able to add a further 16 before the halfway point.

Zaidi, who had been brought to the crease after the departure of Ryder, grafted away against Dawson and fellow spinners Afridi and Brad Taylor alongside Ravi Bopara, adding 49 for the fourth wicket.

Those runs came off 48 balls, reflecting the pressure being applied by the home twirlers, though Zaidi did free his arms to smash Taylor for the innings’ sole six midway through the 16th over.

He followed it up by hitting Gareth Andrew for Essex’s final boundary 15 balls later after Bopara had fallen to Afridi for 17, though he fell short of posting 50 when he was run out in Andrew’s final over.

That 20th over totalled nine balls after Andrew sent down three wides, which was enough to push Essex past 150 and give them something defendable, especially with the pitch behaving in the way it had.

In fact, what no-one knew at half-time was that those three final-over extras would prove to be crucial in deciding the outcome of the contest.

Not that that was even being thought about as the hosts began their chase, and Michael Carberry ensured it kicked off in similar fashion to how Essex had set out, hitting 24 off 18 up front.

That, alongside the eternally classy James Vince amassing a similarly-paced 23, helped Hampshire into the driving seat at the end of the powerplay at 52-2, needing another 102 to win.

However, just as Essex had found out, the end of the fielding restrictions brought about a slowdown in the scoring, with Vince and Sean Ervine only able to add another 25 in the ensuing four overs.

Within those four overs was the introduction of Zaidi to the bowling attack too, and he continued his impressive individual night with the scalp of Dawson, caught by Bopara in the covers for eight.

At the halfway point, Vince had 34 of Hampshire’s total of 77-3, which was exactly level with the required rate and the first sign that a very tense finish might be on the cards.

The home skipper looked to dispel that notion with a 16-run over off Quinn to push his side beyond the required rate, and posted his fifty in 37 balls with a single off Zaidi at the start of the 13th over.

Two wickets in 13 balls, one of which was the dangerous Afridi miscuing back to Quinn off his own bowling to cue a wild celebration, brought the match back into the balance.

When Graham Napier then uprooted Vince’s middle stump for 62, things were tense with Hampshire requiring another 31 from 22 with four wickets in hand.

Taylor and Lewis McManus combined for three boundaries and a total of 23 runs over the next 16 deliveries to ratchet up the tension, with McManus in particular looking rather free-flowing.

Two of those boundaries, one of which was Hampshire’s only maximum, came off the bat of McManus in successive Napier deliveries during the penultimate over.

That left Bopara with seven runs to defend from the final set of six balls, but it was from the second delivery that he struck a hammer blow to Hampshire’s chances by removing McManus for 18.

The England all-rounder then impressively held his nerve to concede just three more runs, including a final two dot balls sent down to Andrew, sealing a win that handed Essex a priceless two points.

Ultimately, the Eagles ended up sneaking into the knockout stages by a single point ahead of Surrey, underlining the old adage that every game really does count.

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from seeing off Hampshire in the Vitality Blast semi-finals last summer, Essex take on the Hawks again at The Cloud County Ground on Thursday 20 June.

With demand running high across the board for this year’s competition, there’s no time to waste to secure the best seats as the Eagles square up to last year’s vanquished semi-final opponents.

Click below to buy your Hampshire general admission tickets now: