Reigning Friends Life t20 champions Hampshire got the defence of their title off to a winning start with a relatively comfortable five-wicket win over Surrey under the Southampton floodlights. Michael Carberry was the stand-out player during their successful run chase, hitting a splendid 60 off only 45 balls. He was at his most fluent and hit shots all around the wicket - an elegant flick off his legs through mid-wicket, a savage cut off Chris Tremlett, a lofted on-drive and a reverse sweep off the spinner. Hampshire did then lose a clutch of wickets towards the end of their innings to Zander de Bruyn (three for 14) to take the gloss off what would have been an even more emphatic win. However, Neil McKenzie ended on 37 off 30 balls and guided them to their target with four balls to spare.
Surrey had earlier been struck a double blow before the match had even begun, with the news that star players Steven Davies and Ricky Ponting were ruled out - the latter still struggling with a hand injury and the former unwell. The hosts, meanwhile, were boosted by the decision by England to release Danny Briggs from their Twenty20 squad.
Briggs was the pick of the Royals’ attack and helped them recover from a poor start during which openers Rory Burns and Jason Roy added 31 in four overs. No Surrey batsman reached 30, with Gary Wilson’s 25-ball 29 the top score. Briggs bowled both Burns and Vikram Solanki (15 off 12 balls) on his way to figures of two for 20, while David Griffiths, playing in place of the injured Dimitri Mascrenhas, was impressive and bowled with not inconsiderable pace, returning figures of two for 23 from his four overs. Zafar Ansari ended unbeaten on 25 off 21 balls as Surrey finished probably 15-20 short of par on 139 for six.
Friday’s Friends Life t20 Fixtures: (previews to follow tomorrow)
North Group, Durham v Lancashire at Chester-le-Street
North, Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire at Trent Bridge
North, Yorkshire v Derbyshire at Headingley
Mid/Wales/West, Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire at Wantage Road
Mid/Wales/West, Worcestershire v Glamorgan at New Road
South, Essex v Hampshire at Chelmsford
South, Kent v Middlesex at Canterbury
South, Sussex v Surrey at Hove
County Cricket News In Brief:
Simon Jones is a major doubt for Glamorgan’s first Friends Life t20 match on Friday due to a shoulder injury. “We’re in the hands of the specialists but he has some problems with his shoulder that aren’t fully diagnosed yet,” said head coach Matthew Mott. Meanwhile, Glamorgan easily beat a South Wales Premier League XI last night in a T20 warm-up match. Nick James took four wickets with his left-arm spin as the club cricketers were bowled out for just 90 in reply to county’s 162 for six.
Northamptonshire have completed their line-up of overseas players for the competition. Sometime South African opener Richard Levi has joined Cameron White at short notice and should be available for all 10 of their group matches. Levi, holder of the record for the fastest century in T20 Internationals, played for Somerset in last year’s tournament.
Kent have announced that Vernon Philander will play for them until he joins Jamaica to play in the Caribbean Premier League on 30th July. Philander will be available for both T20 and four-day cricket for the club over the coming weeks.
Middlesex beat Jersey in their T20 warm-up match last night at Grainville. Paul Stirling hit 100 as county made 235 for four, with Jersey then held to 119 for seven. Middlesex today play a Jersey Select XI, made up of players from the island and Middlesex, as their mini-tour of the island continues ahead of their tournament opener on Friday.
Warwickshire spinner Paul Best has suffered a setback in his recovery from a back injury and is now likely to be out for the rest of the season. In brighter news for the club, batsman Laurie Evans is to play is first competitive match today since sustaining a broken hand six weeks ago. He will play for the second XI alongside Jim Troughton, Steffan Piolet, Ateeq Javid, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Freddie Coleman.
Young Yorkshire bowler Will Rhodes has received a reprimand under the ECB’s disciplinary code for bowling two high full tosses during a second XI match against Lancashire on 20th June.