Carberry onslaught crushes Sussex
Hampshire 222 for 2 (Carberry 68, Vince 58) beat Sussex 219 for 8 (Wright 122, Ervine 3-36) by eight wickets
Hampshire remain on course for a domestic double in limited-overs cricket after Sussex's semi-final frailties were exposed for the second week running. Despite a century of controlled aggression from Luke Wright, Hampshire shredded what could have been a testing chase with a 129-run stand inside the first 13 overs, to set up a repeat of their 2005 C&G Trophy final against Warwickshire.
With FLt20 silverware already in the cabinet, there was a thought that one or two of the more 'experienced' members of the Hampshire side may have had a eye on some deckchair time by the seaside but even without the taped-up talisman of their T20 triumph, injured allrounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, there was no sign that the visitors had begun to build mental sandcastles. Rather it was Sussex, FLt20 semi-finalists and defeated at the same stage in this competition last year, who were left to rue another failure to launch.
James Vince and Michael Carberry eviscerated the home attack with a calculated onslaught that took Hampshire more than halfway to their target, silencing the crowd and, in Carberry's case, endangering a few of them too. "It looked difficult to score in the middle period so we had to do the early damage up front while the ball was hard and coming on to the bat," he said.
While Vince pierced the field with a series of back-foot drives, Carberry was a more muscular aggressor, smashing five sixes back down the ground. The biggest came via a huge mow that cleared the video screen on the north-east corner of the stadium, as the left-hander reached his fifty from 25 deliveries during a sequence of 6-4-4-4 against Chris Liddle.
Carberry has been mentioned as a potential successor to Andrew Strauss at the top of England's Test order and his Man of the Match performance, like Wright's display in defeat, will not have gone unnoticed. He departed trying to smash a second six off Will Beer, underhitting by a matter of inches to be caught at long-on, before Vince fell to the same bowler one run later but Jimmy Adams and Simon Katich went about accumulating the further 90 required in the same unfussy manner of their t20 Finals Day contributions.
"We've come into a fair amount of these games as the underdogs in various people's eyes and that never does any harm," Hampshire captain Adams said. "We've got guys capable of being match-winners and as a team there's a belief we can do it. Today there were some standout performances that swung the game for us."
England's south coast may often be characterised as a slumbering retirement destination but this was a feisty, energetic encounter between two sides with significant one-day pedigree. Recent t20 successes aside, Hampshire (in 2005) and Sussex (2006) were the last two winners of the C&G Trophy, while they contested the final of its successor, the FP Trophy, in 2009. Hampshire won that Lord's encounter and repeated the trick by an even more comfortable margin here, despite the chasing given them by Wright.
Wright has not played international cricket in over a year but he once again demonstrated his clean striking and the ability to clear the ropes - a much yearned-for quality among England batsmen - in a knock that provided more than half his side's runs. He is timing his run of form into the World Twenty20 to perfection and although there will be competition from the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler when it comes to providing the middle-order gunpowder, his extra experience gained around the world, in the Big Bash league, IPL and South Africa's domestic T20, stands him in good stead.
"I suppose the silver lining is that I've got myself in good nick going into the Twenty20s, so fingers crossed I can push for a place and if I get a chance I can do well," said Wright, a member of England's successful 2010 team in the Caribbean. "The harder bit is getting in the XI and winning the title again."
In Sussex's innings, Chris Nash started much the quicker of the openers and had scored 23 of the first 25 runs before Wright decided to even the ledger. With his spiky hair and slightly crooked grin there is a touch of anarchy to Wright's appearance and he brought chaos where there had briefly been calm. David Griffiths, replacing Chris Wood, began with a maiden to Nash, while Wright had pottered his way to 7 from 16 balls when the two first collided - and it was the Hampshire seamer who came off significantly the worse.
From the eighth over of the match, Wright carved four fours, all through the off side, then mugged Griffiths again in his next, smoking a six and a four back down the ground. To compound the bowler's pain, with Wright on 35, Bilal Shafayat clutched at an aerial hook to deep square-leg like it was a bar of soap and put down a simple chance.
Wright made sure it was an expensive fumble, reaching his second consecutive hundred in the competition and progressing to 122 before steering a short ball from Sean Ervine into the hands of Danny Briggs at short third-man. In all, Wright faced 19 deliveries from Griffiths and picked up 49 runs, including two of his three sixes. "Punk" may have been one of the one of the more repeatable words muttered by the bowler.
Partnerships of 71 and 88 had put Sussex in a position, at 159 from 28 overs, to cause some real destruction but after Nash and Matt Prior had departed in the twenties, the middle order were quickly scattered like seagulls on the square. Sussex lost five wickets for four runs in 12 balls and Hampshire, having scrapped their way back into the game, once again proved that underdogs still know how to bite.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo