Wheater-Alsop Partnership Can't Secure Essex Win

Wheater and Alsop hit a record-breaking 169-run partnership, but Hampshire beaten by three wickets at the Ageas Bowl

Adam Wheater (90) and Tom Alsop (84) broke the record for the highest List-A second wicket stand for Hampshire against Essex, but the visitors chased Hants' target of 311 with three balls remaining in their Royal London One Day Cup meeting at the Ageas Bowl.

Wicket-keeper batsman Wheater led Hampshire to a total of 310-6 and his fast hands helped removed key Essex batsmen, but Tom Westley's century and the late efforts of Ashar Zaidi and James Foster cruelly denied the home side of opening their campaign with a win.

Ryan Stevenson (1-28) made a terrfific start to his List-A career, taking just four balls to claim his first wicket in the one-day format, whilst Gareth Berg (2-58) and Mason Crane (2-61) supplied what had looked to be match-winning wickets, when four Essex batsmen fell for just 16 runs.

Essex skipper Ravi Bopara won the toss and elected to field first - as Stevenson and Lewis McManus made List-A debuts - which initially seemed the right decision, as Jimmy Adams (3) was caught in the slips by Nick Browne. 

Tom Alsop and Adam Wheater supplied a record breaking 169-run partnership though – the highest List-A second wicket stand for Hampshire against Essex – to put Hampshire in a commanding position. 

The duo offered flair and yet a degree of control, building assured half-tons with excellent shot selection and smart running, frustrating the Essex bowling attack – led by David Masters and including a spell from the captain, Bopara.

Alsop wasted no time, hitting his fifty off 57 balls, whilst Wheater’s versatility with the bat proved to be a real asset, exhibiting a portfolio of strokes including the reverse-sweep when appropriate.

The 169-run partnership came to an end when Alsop was forced to retire on 84 - feeling unwell after a bout of flu in the week – and Wheater was dismissed shortly after, caught by Bopara as he attempted to drive Lawrence down the ground to leave Hampshire 183-2.

Liam Dawson batted superbly to add another fifty and the home side, benefiting from skipper Sean Ervine’s 36-run contribution, finished a successful innings on 310-4, helped along by Gareth Andrew's 16.

With Essex chasing a target of 311, Ryan Stevenson dealt the visitors their first setback by taking his first ever List-A wicket with his fourth List-A delivery. Nick Browne, going well on 35, was caught at mid-wicket by Jimmy Adams and Essex were reduced to 52-1.

Tom Westley and Jessie Ryder mimicked the second wicket stand of Alsop and Wheater in the first innings, both surpassing fifty and looking in good touch, albeit restricted by Hampshire’s application of spinners Mason Crane and Dawson, who was giving away just three an over.

A flurry of three wickets for Hampshire changed the complexion of the game.

Having led with the bat, wicket-keeper Wheater led Hampshire’s victory charge, using fast hands to stump Ryder (71) and catch Lawrence (3), either side of Crane’s superb reactions in the field to run out Bopara (2), as the Essex batsmen miscommunicated halfway down the wicket.

A fourth wicket for just 16 runs followed, as Wheater confirmed himself as the strongest contender for man of the match, stumping ten Doeschate for Crane’s second wicket and reducing the visitors to 211-5.

Westley made his 100 but struggling to deal with Gareth Andrew’s short deliveries and, with Essex requiring 60 from seven overs, the batsman mistimed a pull and spooned to Sean Ervine, who caught cooly to reduce the visitors to 251-6.

The game swung again though, as Ashar Zaidi set about reaching the target with maximums, freely hitting 41 off 35.

Will Smith took a crucial catch to remove Zaidi and reduce Essex to 281-7, but James Foster helped the visitors find 30 off the final three overs, pinching victory with three balls remaining.