Wright ton in vain as Hampshire qualify
Hampshire 177 for 3 (Carberry 87*) beat Sussex 171 for 8 (Wright 116*)
In order to try to regain his England place at a time of his cricketing life when the competition is from ever-younger batsmen, Michael Carberry has continued to engage the considerable services of Graham Gooch, whose two years as full-time England batting coach came to an end in the spring. At Colchester earlier this week, the pair were in animated conversation. It did help that there was no play on the first day of the match.
Carberry, according to the estimable Gooch, is "a very good player". Such plaudits are not dispensed lightly. And not one spectator who saw his superlative unbeaten 87 that propelled Hampshire into the quarter-finals of the NatWest Twenty20 Blast, despite an unbeaten century by Luke Wright, would have disagreed. This was his highest score of the season in this competition, struck off 63 balls and including five fours and five sixes. These were not slogs, not even in the last over.
The feature of his innings was the picked up six over midwicket, not least from Steve Magoffin, in the final over. Before that, he had lifted the same opening bowler, who running down the slope on his home patch at Hove can be nigh unplayable, straight back for another six , and dealt with Chris Liddle and Steffan Piolet with much the same disdain. Carberry added 111 with Jimmy Adams after the early loss of James Vince, who drove Lewis Hatchett to cover, and Glenn Maxwell, taken at deep square leg.
Hampshire lost their last two matches in this competition and needed a victory here to ensure that they would progress to the knockout stages. Carberry, striking Liddle for six over long-on when he returned at what, for the time being, is still called the Northern End, reached a half century off 35 balls. Adams went for 52 off 34 balls, held at short fine leg attempting to pull Chris Nash's off spin, but Sean Ervine merrily pulled Hatchett for six, straight drove a further six and hammered a four over extra cover. His bowling was less impressive: 18 coming off his first over.
This was when Wright was in full flow. His partnership with Chris Nash resulted in 69 off the first six overs of the Sussex innings. They are a mightily difficult opening pair to bowl at, although as soon as Danny Briggs was in Hampshire's attack, it was a different picture. He bowled Nash, who was rocking back on his stumps, and Craig Cachopa was held on the cover boundary, swiftly followed by Ashar Zaidi being bowled by Will Smith.
Matt Machan followed, held trying to hit straight, and the dependable Briggs took a third wicket when he had Ben Brown leg before for a duck, and then a fourth, that of Will Beer, nicely caught at long on by Maxwell. By now, of course, it was all too apparent that if Wright could find someone to stay with him, Sussex would win. And that his dismissal or a shortage of decent partners would presage a Hampshire victory. Dropped by Chris Wood on 85 at deep midwicket, he swung Briggs for six and reached a notable century, but 17 off the last over proved beyond even him. Missed once more, at long off, he finished unbeaten on 116 off 66 balls with 19 fours and four sixes. Other than Nash, no-one else reached double figures.