Despite having their match against Notts washed-out by rain, Hampshire went clear at the top of Div 1 in the T20 Cup with a close-run victory over Birmingham Bears at Aldershot.
On a day when the weather held most of the cards, Hampshire and Notts could only sit in the pavilion watching the Men’s World Cup on TV, as the first match of the triple-header went first from 20 overs down to 12, before being cancelled completely as rain showers persisted through an early lunch and into the afternoon.
Notts v Birmingham, scheduled to start at 1:30pm, eventually got underway as an 8-overs-a-side thrash at 10 past 3.
Notts got off to a reasonable start, despite losing Sonia Odedra for a duck off the first legitimate delivery of the innings, with the Graves sisters, Teresa (24) and Yvonne (10), putting on 30 for the second wicket; but 4 wickets for 12 in 2 overs, including a hat-trick from leg-spinner Nish Patel, pegged Notts back to 61-8.
In reply however, the Bears didn’t quite get out of the blocks quickly enough, and despite Marie Kelly hitting 32 off 23 balls, they ended up 5 runs short.
With the sun finally making an appearance as afternoon turned to evening, a genuine Twenty20 match between Hampshire and Birmingham – joint leaders coming into the weekend – offered one or the other the chance to seize control of the title race.
In-form Marie Kelly opened the batting for the Bears, but lasted just one ball as Maia Bouchier appeared to spill the easiest of Caught & Bowled opportunities, but somehow managed to juggle it and take the catch on the third attempt.
Despite the early setback, the Bears made steady progress through the powerplay, including a sudden burst of acceleration in the 5th over as Gwenan Davies and Thea Brookes plundered 15 off Fi Morris’s first over. It was Morris who would go on to have the last word, however – coming back at the death to deliver a further 2.4 overs for just 6 runs, taking 3 wickets along the way, as Birmingham stuttered to a below-par 95 all out.
A 34-run partnership between Maia Bouchier (20) and Sam Betts (20) then appeared to have put Hampshire in the cruising seat to an easy win, before Jess Couser intervened to dismiss Betts and Bouchier in successive overs. Couser’s third over then added the scalps of Fi Morris and Emily Windsor, and for a moment the comeback looked on for Birmingham.
But Katie George (20*), despite taking a few risks along the way, managed to hold things together with the help of Ella Chandler (13) and Charlie Dean (9*), to see Hampshire home with 6 balls to spare, to go 4 points clear at the top of the T20 table.