July 14, 2002

Hawks licking their feathers after shock defeat

How on earth do you report a match that for 98% of the time was rather boring, with Hampshire Hawks apparently cruising to victory, and that then suddenly turned upside down, with an amazing Essex Eagles win?

Essex chose to bat first on a slow wicket, and their innings started like an express train, with 47 runs in the first seven overs. It was the introduction of Tremlett that started to bring respectability to the score, with two wickets for nine runs in his first spell. Mascarenhas made up for conceding 15 in his first over with 8 more tidy overs, and Tremlett finished with a career-best four for 25 as the Eagles, thanks to a late run from Aftab Habib, finished with exactly 200 in their 45 overs.

Despite the slow pitch, the Hawks openers Neil Johnson and Derek Kenway put on 62 comfortably. Following the fall of the first wicket, Mascarenhas upped the tempo, with another half century stand with Johnson, and a third stand with Crawley saw Hampshire reach 177-2. With six overs remaining, they needed just 24 for victory with 8 wickets in hand.

But the comfort zone was soon to change. Crawley was enticed forward by Napier and was well stumped by Andy Flower - 177-3 (39.5 overs). Prittipaul was out second ball, bowled by Middlebrook at the start of a spell that saw him take four wickets for just 10 runs. 180-4 (40.5 overs). With Johnson still holding up one end, Giles White flattered with a quickfire 10 before he was adjudged lbw to Middlebrook. 192-5 (42.2 overs). After a 132-ball stay, Johnson was brilliantly caught by wicket-keeper Flower as the ball bounced off bat and pad. 192-6 (43.1).

Nine runs were now needed with four wickets and 11 balls in hand. Skipper Will Kendall faced five accurate balls from Cowan, and to the excitement of the crowd who had suddenly woken up to the match, nine runs were needed off the last Middlebrook over. Pothas ran a single of the first ball, but Kendall then played an exorbitant drive and was ignominiously bowled. 193-7 (44.2 overs). Shaun Udal drove for two, before he too was stumped charging down the wicket. 195-8 (44.4 overs). Finally the bowling hero Chris Tremlett could not make enough contact off the last two balls. The home side were leaping for joy, and the Hawks were licking their feathers in shock.