Match Previews: Essex v Hampshire Hawks | Kent Spitfires v Essex


Essex v Hampshire Hawks | Kent Spitfires v Essex

Vitality Blast
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford | The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm | Friday 21 June, 6:30pm

After games on consecutive days to round out last week, Essex again face back-to-back matches with the visit of Hampshire Hawks on Thursday, before a trip to Kent Spitfires beckons on Friday.

The Eagles are aiming to bounce back from a defeat to Sussex Sharks on Friday night, though that only came after a thoroughly impressive win against the odds over Middlesex at Lord’s the day before.

In a frequently-interrupted affair at the Home of Cricket, Essex blasted their way to 129-4 from the 12.4 overs that were possible, before then restricting the hosts to 63-2 from six in a pursuit of 80.

Unfortunately, attempts to back that up against Sussex on Friday were in vain, as the Eagles’ 178-9 was overhauled with eight wickets and 4.2 overs to spare.

Now, Anthony McGrath’s side will look to bounce back in two fixtures that each have an edge to them, with the former being a repeat of last season’s semi-final and the latter a Battle of the Bridge clash.


Head Coach McGrath has named an unchanged 14-player squad for both games.

The Inside Line: Anthony McGrath

The Opposition: Hampshire Hawks

Perennially a strong contender in the shortest format, Hampshire are the joint-most successful county in this competition’s history, with three titles, and a record ten appearances at Finals Day.

They have appeared there in each of the last three seasons, though their historical dominance is underlined by the fact that between 2010 and 2015, they never failed to reach at least the last four.

By those high past standards, the Hawks have begun the 2024 campaign slowly, with two wins from six matches, which allied with two washouts, has put them fifth in the South Group, just behind Essex.

However, they retain the services of some high-quality players, with the likes of James Vince, Ben McDermott, Liam Dawson, and Michael Neser all in their ranks.

Hampshire Hawks squad: Toby Albert, Liam Dawson, James Fuller, Benny Howell, Ben McDermott, Fletcha Middleton, Michael Neser, Felix Organ, John Turner, James Vince*, Joe Weatherley, Brad Wheal, Chris Wood.

Last Time We Met: Hampshire Hawks

Last season’s semi-final will live long in the memory of Essex fans, with the Eagles securing a dramatic five-wicket win via the DLS method to advance to the final.

Batting first after losing the toss, Hampshire posted 170-7, with Joe Weatherley striking an unbeaten 63 from 39 balls and Matt Critchley being the pick of the bowlers with 2/22.

Less than three overs into the chase, however, with Essex 19-1, rain forced the players from the field for an hour, and recalculated the Essex target to requiring 115 from 12 overs: in other words, a further 96 from 55 balls.

Crucial contributions from Critchley, who hit 26 not out from 14, and Daniel Sams, who made 29 off 17, set up Simon Harmer to dramatically blast Nathan Ellis for the winning six with three balls to spare.

The Opposition: Kent Spitfires

As Essex’s arch-rivals, clashes with Kent Spitfires are always keenly anticipated, with the fixture working the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge – better known as the Dartford Bridge – into its excitable name.

Over the years, the Battle of the Bridge has been played to a conclusion in T20 cricket 39 times – with one no result – and the breakdown is predictably even, with 18 wins for Essex compared to Kent’s 21.

The Spitfires have won the title twice, in 2007 and 2021, and have appeared at Finals Day on four occasions, though this season, four defeats from six games has put them eighth in the South Group.

Captain Sam Billings leads the way with the bat, having struck 211 runs at an average of 35.16, while spinner Matt Parkinson’s seven wickets at 19.28 apiece mark him out as the leading bowler.

Kent Spitfires squad: TBC

Last Time We Met: Kent Spitfires

It was a difficult evening at The Cloud County Ground the last time Kent visited, with the Eagles falling to a seven-wicket defeat with ten balls to spare.

Put in after losing the toss, Essex posted 184 all out, with Dan Lawrence’s 52 from 36 balls the top score and valuable contributions also coming from Will Buttleman and Matt Critchley, who each hit 31.

In reply, Kent suffered the early loss of Tawanda Muyeye for 12, caught by Buttleman off Daniel Sams, but a big partnership between Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly swung the game.

Bell-Drummond ended unbeaten on 69 from 49, while Denly went even better with 76 off just 32, handing Kent the two points in the penultimate over.

South Group Table

How To Watch

If you are not able to attend either or both matches, each will be live-streamed – on the usual EssexCricketTV YouTube channel and through the Essex Cricket Matchzone on Thursday and then on the Kent Cricket Play platform on Friday. Please note that Kent charge a £5.99 fee for their live stream.

A report will be published on the Club website at the conclusion of each game, while live updates and highlights from both will be provided on the Essex Cricket social media channels.


There is still some availability for the Hampshire fixture on Thursday, with prices starting at £30 for adults, £25 for young adults and students, and £7 for juniors.

The Kenton Group Stand at the Graham Gooch End of the ground is the designated family stand for this year’s Vitality Blast, with blocks 27-29 being alcohol-free and blocks 30 & 31 being the alcohol-tolerant family area.

Seats are in shorter supply for Friday night’s Battle of the Bridge clash in Canterbury, with the upper tier of the Frank Woolley Stand sold out and general admission for the rest of the ground showing limited availability.

Tickets for the home game with Hampshire Hawks are available on this link:

Meanwhile, tickets for the trip to Kent can be purchased by clicking this link:

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

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex are now back in Vitality Blast action for 2024.

With the Eagles sitting fourth in the South Group and firmly in contention for another knockout match, demand for tickets remains exceptionally high.

As Essex continue to aim towards going one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here