Wednesday, August 4th, 2021


Worcestershire Rapids went down by six wickets to Hampshire in their latest Royal London Cup encounter at the Ageas Bowl – but are still well in the hunt to qualify for the knockout stages.

The Rapids produced a rare disappointing performance with the bat, being dismissed for 176 with 11 of their 50 overs unused.

Kyle Abbott, who had a short spell at New Road as a player, inflicted most of the damage, with a List A career best performance of 5-43.

But the Rapids will also reflect on some of their shot selections in contrast to a series of consistent efforts in the previous four games.

Brett D’Oliveira again looked a class act in making 40, and in the process passed 250 runs in the 2021 competition, and Club Captain Joe Leach showing some late defiance with an unbeaten 34.

But on a decent pitch for batting, it was a target that Hampshire comfortably achieved with 10.1 overs to spare, despite two wickets for D’Oliveira and one apiece for Adam Finch and Josh Baker.

The Rapids remain in third spot with six points from five games going into Friday’s home match with Sussex.

They are only point behind second placed Lancashire while Essex currently top the table on eight points.

Leach opted to bat and Jack Haynes (14) collected two boundaries, one from a square drive and one off drive in Abbott’s first over, but chopped the next delivery onto his stumps.

D’Oliveira survived a difficult chance to second slip off Abbott before he had scored, but then looked full of confidence in producing a series of impressive strokes.

He off drove Abbott for four, and lofted the next delivery over mid on for another boundary.

Tom Fell, fresh from an impressive half century against Middlesex, made seven before pulling John Turner to mid-wicket.

D’Oliveira brought up the Rapids 50 in only 8.2 overs with a cover drive for four off Ian Holland, and square cut the same bowler to the ropes.

The Rapids reached 75-2 in the 12th over but then the wickets began to fall on a regular basis.

James Fuller struck in successive overs, with Jake Libby (12) lbw and D’Oliveira, after making a fine 40, pushing forward before he was bowled by a delivery which nipped away.

The opener hit six fours in his 41-ball innings.

Gareth Roderick and Ed Barnard added 38 for the fifth wicket before Abbott returned to the attack to dismiss them both.

Roderick, on 15, fell to a fine catch off a leading edge to Fuller at mid off and Barnard, 29, drove at a delivery and edged through to Joe Weatherley in a widish slip position.

Leach opted for a positive approach and twice swept Felix Organ for boundaries in the same over.

Abbott continued to make inroads with Josh Dell (2) stepping out of his crease and aiming a pull at the paceman, but he was caught off a leading edge by Weatherley at slip.

The same combination accounted for Josh Baker (0) three balls later as he tried to fend off a testing delivery.

Leach continued to play some fine shots and a four to wide long on off Fuller brought up the 150.

He ended unbeaten on 34 from 36 balls with six boundaries, after Turner wrapped up the innings by holding onto a return catch from Charlie Morris (5), before Finch (1) edged through to the keeper.

Leach and Morris shared the new ball for the Rapids, but it was Finch who made the breakthrough.

He struck in his third over when Tom Presto (12) went for a pull but picked out D’Oliveira at backward square leg.

Leach rotated his bowlers and it was D’Oliveira who ended a stand of 68 between Alsop and Gubbins.

Alsop, having made 50 off 85 balls with six fours, went back to the spinner and tried to hit him over the top, but only picked out Leach at mid-off.

Gubbins completed his half century from 56 balls with one six and three fours.

But he was also a victim of D’Oliveira on 59 when he tried to flick the ball to leg and was caught behind.

Baker deceived Weatherley, who was stumped for 33, before the home side sealed victory.