Essex started their Royal London Cup campaign well with a win away from home against Glamorgan, then went on a run of losses, losing at home to Middlesex then away at Surrey and Somerset. There was some debate about the choices made when the toss was won, but results around the country suggests that remains a random decision.
Ryan ten Doeschate won this toss and elected to bat. Having scored just 367 in the 2 away games it was going to be important to get runs on the board, especially against a team with a good number of big hitters.
I arrived a little late after dropping my daughter off at the airport to find Rishi Patel opening with Alastair Cook and the score on 60 for no wicket. I just about managed to sit down before Alastair Cook was out, he’s not had the best of starts to the season and nicked another ball to the keeper, Tom Alsop from the bowling of Brad Wheal. Make that 60 for 1.
Patel made 35 on his One Day debut before he was caught by Wheal from the bowling of Liam Dawson 2 overs later, Essex were 67 for 2.
Tom Westley had come in at 3 and he was joined by Dan Lawrence. The pair put on 44 before Lawrence was fooled by a ball from Dawson and bowled for 21. Ravi Bopara was next up and he and Westley formed a partnership of 36, Westley edged a ball to Alsop and was out for 48. Essex had moved on to 147 for 4.
Westley’s wicket fell in the 20th over and Essex were in need of some pace in their innings. Enter captain Ryan ten Doeschate, he and Ravi Bopara have batted together many, many times. They often leave Essex fans with their hearts in their mouths as each has run the other out many times. It often feels like a case of when rather than if. But in this match they ran well together with in the main, good, decisive calls.
The pair put on 150 much needed runs, there was a distinct determination from both men, there was little acknowledgement when each reached 50, they were on a mission. Both men are a joy to watch in full flow. I’d made sure I was well placed should either reach their century. But, Bopara skied a ball from Kyle Abbot and Sam Northeast took the catch, he was out for 89. Essex had progressed to 297 for 5.
Paul Walter came in next, his first shot was a huge 6. Ironically this partnership was where captain ten Doeschate was run out, he too had made 89, but with more pace, from 59 balls, a strike rate of 150.85.
Paul Walter scored 22 runs from just 14 balls, giving an entertaining end to the innings. Essex finished their innings on 341 for 6.
Tom Alsop and Aiden Markram opened for Hants and both were back in the pavilion at the end of the 9th over. Hants were 31 for 2. Peter Siddle trapped Alsop LBW and Matt Coles making his first start had Markram caught by Jamie Porter.
James Vince who’d scored 190 in his last match was joined by Sam Northeast, My favourite player outside of Essex I was a little disappointed when Northeast was out for just 3, another wicket for Coles he was caught by Robbie White. Hampshire were 37 for 3 and in some trouble.
In came Rilee Rossouw, a powerful batsman, he has over 5000 List A runs to his name at an average of 39.53. Vince and Rossouw formed a partnership of 87 before Vince fell victim to Dan Lawrence, he was caught by Paul Walter for 47.
Liam Dawson who’s subsequently scored a century in the competition lasted for just 2 balls before he was caught by Alastair Cook from the bowling of Ravi Bopara. Hampshire were 125 for 5.
Rossouw found another partner in fellow South African Gareth Berg, the pair contributed 79 taking Hampshire to 204 for 6. Berg was out for 41 from 28 balls, caught Porter, bowled Coles. James Fuller was bowled by Bopara, who ended with 3 for 39 from his 8 overs.
Rilee Rossouw played a wonderful innings and was approaching his century, when another catch presented itself to Jamie Porter from the bowling of Bopara. On 93 his disappointment was palpable, he deserved the 100. He’d taken just 72 balls to reach that 93.
The last 2 wickets fell for just 15 runs and Hants were all out for 230, going Essex a win by 111 runs.