Carberry, Coles silence Chelmsford
Hampshire 168 for 5 (Carberry 57, Coles 54) beat Essex 167 for 9 (Pettini 44, ten Doeschate 36, Smith 3-17) by five wickets
As England plunge deeper into disarray, several discounted players could, if they so wish, look on rather smugly. Michael Carberry, it could be argued, is sitting prettiest. If anything, his repute has been enhanced as he channels his indignation into scoring runs for Hampshire. A swashbuckling fifty at Chelmsford silenced the crowd and got his message across.
Carberry was one England's more defiant players during a chastening winter, producing some stubborn displays at the top of the order, but he was overlooked by Peter Moores' new regime. It is unlikely a recall will come, particularly in the longer-format, as England look to the future, but the manner in which he disdainfully clubbed and swatted the Essex bowling to, and over, the fence had an element of wrath about it.
He spanked 25 off the third over of Hampshire's chase, despite James Vince falling first ball to Graham Napier, and welcomed young Matt Salisbury into the attack the next over by bludgeoning him for three further boundaries. By the time his defences were breached by Ravi Bopara in the eighth over, he had struck six fours and four maximums - destruction had well and truly been done.
Matt Coles - promoted up the order in an attempt to improve Hampshire's run rate - took great pleasure in dishing out more punishment to Essex's helpless attack in scoring the quickest half-century of the season as Hampshire reached their target of 168 with 15 balls left.
Essex's total was always likely to be inadequate on a bountiful surface and village-green sized boundaries. At one point, the umpires radioed upstairs asking for more balls to be sourced; it was lucky they did as the carnage escalated. In all, the rope was cleared 19 times but Hampshire suffered less damage as their slower bowlers operated acutely.
Jesse Ryder, for a player who has built his repute in the shortest-format, has failed to provide the pyrotechnics he's capable of on a regular basis up front. Ryder's footwork, particularly against spin, is questionable at the best of times but the manner in which Will Smith fired one through his shadowy defences, trying to force one into the off side, set a precedent.
The ease in which Essex have coasted through the group stage without him firing regularly is a testament to the subordinates below him. However, Paul Grayson will be hoping a below-par performance, in all disciplines, is nothing more than a blip in a near faultless season to date.
Tom Westley has stood tallest as top-scorer and coming in at the fall of the first wicket, with Ryder's indifferent form, there has been weight on his shoulders to direct the innings. He briefly did so with a quickfire 31 but after ignited the innings with a couple of glorious shots through the covers, Hampshire put the brakes on their charge.
Essex lost four for 36 in the final five overs, however, as Hampshire's spinners mixed their pace to great effect. Smith led the way with career-best figures of 3 for 17 as James Foster followed Ryder's suit and Ryan ten Doeschate holed out to Glenn Maxwell at deep midwicket. Coles conceded 42 runs in his four overs but repaired the damage with the bat in some style.