Hampshire (254-6) beat Lancashire (241) by 4 wkts
Normal service resumed in Southampton as the pomp, ceremony and frills that accompany the roadshow of international cricket had moved onto its next destination. The day after England smashed a one-day record score for this ground the stands were no longer heaving, the runs were no longer flowing and the gentle hum of county cricket had returned as Hampshire cruised into their second successive Lord’s final.
“Credit has to go to the team,” offered Gareth Berg, modestly, after his five for 26 saw off Lancashire’s tail earlier in the day. Man-of-the-match Berg, who also finished unbeaten on 18 as Hampshire wrapped up victory in the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final with six balls to spare, said of his team-mates: “They played phenomenally well throughout the day and today was just my day with the ball.”
James Vince, in a fluent and patient, if not comprehensive, knock of 79 added another elegant half-century to his domestic CV.
Jos Buttler may have been at his blistering best on Saturday but yesterday there was little need for Vince to go berserk, as Lancashire’s 241 was more than 50 below the par score at the Ageas Bowl this year.
In a 122-run stand with Rilee Rossouw, who top-scored with 85, Vince saw off the initial threat of Saqib Mahmood and James Anderson, before carefully negotiating his way against Lancashire’s promising leg-spinner, Matthew Parkinson.
England announced their preliminary World Cup squad almost a month ago. Since then Alex Hales has been omitted for indiscreet transgressions while Joe Denly’s discreet inclusion, which was obscured at the time by the Jofra Archer sideshow, has started to attract its own questions.
Vince simply cemented further the presumption that he will slot neatly into the vacant slot left by Hales. Liam Dawson, in a neither exhilarating nor demeaning spell of left-arm spin combined with a handy 28 with the bat, will feel he is still in with a chance of pipping Denly to the role of back-up-spinner-cum-purveyor- of-all-trades.
Beyond the World Cup whisperings however, which have surely neared saturation point, on Sunday offered a promising glimpse further into the future.
It seems almost blasphemy to suggest that anyone might out-bowl England’s most decorated veteran. Yet Saqib Mahmood’s blistering opening five-over spell of three wickets for just 16 runs showed once again why James Anderson has spoken so highly for so long of the exciting Lancashire quick bowler.
There was a moment of alarm for Anderson, who had to leave the field after a blow to his knee, but with the Ashes still months away there did not appear any lasting damage.
Meanwhile in the other semi-final up the road at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire were unable to produce another great batting escape as they succumbed to a 115-run loss against a Somerset side peaking at just the right time.
Hales ensured his name is not forgotten in a hurry with a seemingly effortless half-century but
it was a three-wicket haul from Roelof van der Merwe, aided by some serious seam-bowling support, which helped propel the South West county into their white-ball final since 2011.