Hampshire Hawks recorded their 4th straight victory, when they defeated Division Two leaders Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 4 wickets at Wantage Road on Sunday. It was Hampshire's first victory away to their hosts since 1980 some 23 years ago. Despite a superb century from Phil Jaques for the Steelbacks it was Hawks captain John Crawley who guided the away team to a vital victory.
On a warm but overcast summers day, Northants chose to bat first and received an immediate set back when prolific Aussie Michael Hussey took one step back whilst attempting to cut Wasim Akram and was out hit wicket for 0.
The home side also lost their other opener Bob White well caught at third man by Shaun Udal of Dimitri Mascarenhas. Phillip Jaques the Aussie Englishman then took charge, he batted magnificently to all parts in his run a ball 117, but was dismissed when he pulled Mascarenhas to Simon Katich at deep mid-wicket. Apart from a 15 ball flurry from Graham Swann, the Steelbacks seriously lost their way managing to score just 29 runs in their last 9 overs, falling way short of making this an impossible task for the Hawks.
After losing Derek Kenway early on, Simon Katich and Robin Smith set about their target, together they shared a 65 run partnership, although Smith was hampered when he pulled a muscle attempting a quick single, he was helped to his 33 by Derek Kenway who acted as a runner.
Katich took the score to 127 and passed his second half century of the NUL season, but skipper John Crawley was holding the innings together. The loss of John Francis and Lawrence Prittipaul in quick succession gave the visiting fans the jitters, but Mascarenhas joined his captain and they upped the tempo which had been reduced by the spinners Swann and Brown. Mascarenhas struck a hugh six to lighten his teams load as he smit 31 runs in just 29 balls.
It was left to John Crawley to stroke the winning runs with his 7th four (plus one six) to complete the victory with 3 balls to spare.