Sunday 8th August 2021 – The Royal London Cup at The County Ground, Beckenham
The history books will show a comprehensive victory in this 50 over game for Hampshire but the impact of the weather made the result a relative forgone conclusion once the visitors had won the toss.
Torrential rain overnight and into Sunday morning meant there was no start possible until 2.30pm – a delay of 3 1/2 hours, which reduced the game down to 27 overs a side. That should have suited Kent, who have the best record out of all 18 counties in the T20 Blast this season. But of course, the T20 happened prior to The Hundred and the pillaging of the county squads for players. Consequently, Kent came into this game at the foot of Group A knowing that unless they won, they would be knocked out of the competition.
Being the most local ground to home, the decision to depart was delayed until the announcement at 2pm was made that play would start in 30 minutes. We took our seats just as Ollie Robinson sent the ball crashing to the boundary in the first over, expecting Kent to give the first few overs a go. And we wasn’t disappointed. Muyeye and Robinson looked relatively calm and controlled as they put on 45 in 6 overs before Turner bowled the former.
Then Kent did a Kent thing. They lost all momentum and the run rate slowed to 4 an over before wickets then started to tumble, with Ian Holland removing Robinson, Leaning and Finch to reduce Kent to 66-4. Within minutes of that fourth dismissal heavy rain passed over – a short but very sharp shower that saw us lose around 30 minutes of play and thus a further reduction in the number of overs to 24.
Stevens became Holland’s 4th victim with the score at 70 and then it was a case of whether Kent would make it to 100 as wickets fell every couple of overs, with no one reaching double figures, finally bowled out for 105 with 7 balls to spare.
It wasn’t so depressing though – the beer tent was doing a roaring trade and a choice between burritos, Pad Thai or waffles helped ease us through the interval.
Because of the rain delay, the Duckworth Lewis computation worked in Kent’s favour for once! Instead of chasing 106 to win, Hampshire needed 107. Bereft of their limited overs batting stars James Vince and D’Arcy Short there was a chance if Kent took early wickets. Prest may have departed for just 2 but there was already 19 on the board. Gubbins followed soon after for the same score and gave Kent some hope but it lasted all but an over or two. Alsop (37), Weatherley (25) and man of the match Holland (30 not out) saw Hampshire win, with my namesake Fuller smashing the winning runs with only the second six of the game.
It was a painful defeat for Kent and one that meant they can’t progress in the competition after their final group game back here on Thursday when Gloucestershire are the visitors. But Beckenham was the real winner – despite the weather, fans came out, the umpires were happy to play even if the field was a bit damp and the tills were ringing again.