Lack of floodlights costs Worcs after dazzling Vince ton
Hampshire 196 for 4 (Vince 107*, Carberry 42) beat Worcestershire 58 for 2 by 17 runs (DLS method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final between Worcestershire and Hampshire ended in farcical circumstances as bad light at New Road - a ground with no floodlights - forced an early end to proceedings. Hampshire progressed to Finals Day on Duckworth Lewis Stern having bowled just 8.1 overs in Worcestershire's run chase.
James Vince had earlier struck an almost faultless hundred to take Hampshire to an imposing 196 for 4. Although Worcestershire were facing a spiralling required run rate when play was halted, there is no doubt they would have wanted a full 20 overs to make a proper case for their first Finals Day appearance.
Following a day of rain and heavy cloud in Worcester, the light was troubling the Hampshire fielders for a few minutes before the teams were eventually led off. The decision was made when Chris Wood protested to the umpires that he was struggling to see the ball after he dropped a catch on the square-leg boundary that burst through his hands and left him with a bloodied, possibly broken, nose.
According to the tournament rules floodlights are not mandatory for hosting evening T20 matches, with three other counties, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Somerset, also not possessing them. Those four counties without floodlights schedule their evening matches to begin one hour earlier, at 5.30pm, but following a gloomy day in Worcester the light closed in quickly and play was suspended at 7.33pm. "We thought it was just too dangerous out there at the end," umpire Rob Bailey told Sky Sports.
Shortly after the match was stopped boos rang around New Road when it was announced on the PA system that Hampshire would win on DLS if no more play was possible. For almost three quarters of an hour the umpires, players and fans waited to see if the light would improve but at 8.16pm the decision was made and the sun quite literally set on Worcestershire's T20 season.
Questions were already being asked as to why what was essentially a day-night match was scheduled at a ground with no floodlights, or why the match could not have been played as a day game. The fixtures were restricted to an extent, with Kent forced to play their home quarter-final on Saturday, despite having floodlights, due to the Women's Ashes Test finishing in Canterbury on Friday. However, there are no county fixtures scheduled for Sunday and the match could possibly have been played then.
The ECB will be frustrated this incident has occurred, a day after reports suggested it is increasingly reluctant to usher in a city-based T20 league. Images of Worcester fans resorting to shining their phone torches in the direction of the pitch are hardly the image the governing body will have had in mind when triumphing the success of this season's T20 Blast.
The win, albeit in controversial circumstances, took Hampshire into their sixth consecutive Finals Day. In the 13th season of T20, they are forging a legacy of their own. Birmingham may have a more impressive recent record but Hampshire can surely lay claim to being the most consistent, if not the best, T20 side the English game has produced.
Although the win may taste slightly sour, Hampshire could argue they were on course for victory. Indeed, even in a curtailed match, the result was one that Hampshire, and especially Vince, deserved.
Vince's hundred, his first in the T20 format, came off just 60 balls and was a wonderful display of batsmanship. Helped along by a typically energetic opening partnership with Michael Carberry, and later a busy Adam Wheater, Vince displayed an impressive range of strokes, scoring all around the wicket against some highly regarded T20 bowlers. The number of shots evidently at his disposal didn't appear to clutter his mind as he took apart Worcestershire's attack with surgical precision. Vince has now scored 641 runs this season, putting him second overall.
It was clear from the start that Hampshire planned to go fast and hard at the ball straight away and Vince, with his quick hands, had slashed four fours and a six by the end of the Powerplay. Worcestershire managed to keep him restrained through the early middle overs, as he lost his opening partner, but Vince cut loose once again in the final quarter of the innings, forcing four consecutive double-digit overs as Hampshire pushed on towards 200. He may have scored at a strike rate of 164 but there was nothing ungainly about Vince's strokeplay - it was accelerated classical batting.
It was innings that embodied Hampshire's T20 complexion: not quite scintillating but certainly not boring either. But while Vince lit up the first half of the evening, the lights were about to go out on Worcestershire.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket