Report & Reaction: Hampshire v Worcestershire, RL Cup

Read the report and hear reaction from Hampshire's opening fixture of their Royal London Cup campaign against Worcestershire Rapids at The Ageas Bowl

Words by Alex Smith, ECB Reporters Network

Ian Holland ripped through Worcestershire Rapids’ top order as Hampshire began their Royal London Cup campaign with a 44-run victory.

Australian-born USA international Holland picked up three for 17 to leave Rapids 37 for five after Hampshire had scored 236 thanks to 40s from Ben Brown, Fletcha Middleton and Scott Currie.

A Worcestershire List A record sixth wicket partnership between Warwickshire-bound Ed Barnard – who ended with a brave unbeaten 85 – and Taylor Cornall helped the hosts recover.

But Felix Organ and Currie, three for 36, tidied up the tail in front of a healthy 3,100 at the Ageas Bowl with five overs to spare.

If Hampshire’s start of 51 for three was poor, the Rapid’s was catastrophic. Holland bulldozed the top order with his nagging line and length.

He had Ed Pollock slog sweeping to deep square to his first ball before Gareth Roderick attempted to cut a ball which gained some extra bounce to edge to slip and Jake Libby pushed to the same fielder Prest. Holland’s opening seven over spell returned three for 11 and included two maidens.

Currie had pinned Pakistan international Azhar Ali in the third over and John Turner entered the attack to have Kashif Ali also nudging to Prest and leaving his side 37 for five.

Cornall and Barnard went from giving the Rapids respectability to putting the victory back on their radar with an effortless accumulation of runs.

Their 130-run stand set a new Worcestershire record in List A cricket, beating the 121 put on between Phil Neale and Steve Rhodes in 1988. To underpin his importance to their middle-order, Barnard has been involved in the record stands for the fifth, sixth and seventh wicket - his fifth format fifty coming in 72 balls.

Felix Organ finally broke the partnership after almost 30 overs when Cornall swept to long on and had Leach pinned in front in his following over.

Nineteen-year-old debutant Henry Cullen skyed straight up in the air, Adam Finch swung to deep square and Ben Gibbon was lbw first ball to end the contest.

Earlier, Hampshire’s top order got bogged down and couldn’t build partnerships having been put in on a pitch which offered some decent bounce.

Leach, Gibbon and Barnard all picked up a wicket each to leave the hosts floundering – Nick Gubbins chipping to mind on, Aneurin Donald bowled and Prest nicking off.

Brown and Middleton set about the recovery carefully, with the pair only scoring eight boundaries in their 85-run stand. Middleton – whose father Tony made his List A debut against Worcestershire in 1989 – dominated through the midwicket region whether it was on the front foot pull or clip off his legs, while Brown dabbed and pushed to recalibrate the innings.

Both looked en route to half-centuries but both fell agonisingly short of the milestone. Middleton tickled behind on 49 before Brown chased a cut shot to point.

Organ survived a caught and bowled but not a clip to long on and Holland chip to midwicket, but Currie came in to give it a whack, during a 54-run stand with Toby Albert.

The all-rounder gave the death overs impetus with seven crushing fours to ease to a professional career-high 43 not out and take Hampshire to an around par 236 – with Albert, Jack Campbell and Turner all departing late on.

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