One could forgive a Hampshire supporter for hauling a cool bag of above-moderate expectations out to The Ageas Bowl for Friday night’s sun-kissed Vitality Blast opener. Craig White’s side comes with a strong pedigree in the short format, after all – being attendees at Finals Day for seven of the the past eight summers and twice champions, anchored by an incessant core of strong internationals, and fresh off sealing a dominant victory in the game’s other limited overs format at Lord’s just six days prior, it’d be rude not to have faith for their homecoming.
Freshly imported to bolster a top order that already ranks amongst the circuit’s strongest, 86-cap New Zealander Colin Munro made inroads towards an under-par Glamorgan target of 168 by dispatching Andrew Salter for a deep boundary with the first ball of the innings. Such audacity was immediately stemmed, however, as Chris Cooke took a sharp catch behind before Lord’s hero Rilee Rossouw misjudged a sweep to leave the score at 9/2 six balls in. That became 15/4 three overs later as Timm van der Gugten caught both a stunning return grab off England misfit James Vince (2) and a flimsy prod from former Kent talisman Sam Northeast (3) off the miserly Michael Hogan, hopes of anything respectable lay firmly on the shoulders of Tom Alsop, who struck a bold 64 in similar circumstances last summer against Sussex.
Instead, all he could muster was a lethargic pull on 12 to become Salter’s third victim, and Graham Wagg’s brace of Lewis McManus (0) and Liam Dawson (2) to similar shots into Salter’s hands the next over sparked hunts for the record books. From a platform of 32/7, only superfluous counterattack from tail-end duo Gareth Berg (26) and Kyle Abbott (a career-best 29) kept Hampshire from limboing beneath their decade-old previous lowest of 85, and by the time they closed their tallies the formidable ground appeared yet more cavernous. Around 7,500 spectators appeared, and all many had to sing about was how football may well be coming home.
Earlier, prospects looked far more, well, competent as Vince’s choice to bowl at the toss gave his new-look spin cohort the chance to dampen the visitors’ typical high-scoring top order. With Will Smith back in Durham colours and Mason Crane ruled out for the season with a stress fracture to his back, 17-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman looked every bit the part as he debuted on English shores by pegging back the off stump of an unnervy Usman Khawaja (9) with the beguiling spin that took him from becoming the first male born this century to earn a full international cap to a breakout star in this spring’s Indian Premier League with 14 wickets for Kings XI Punjab.
As erstwhile England left-armer Liam Dawson enticed Shaun Marsh (15) towards a leaping Rossouw on the deep cover boundary and Colin Ingram into a fumbled scoop to Mujeeb for a remarkably moderate 35 on his way to figures of 2/25 from his allocation, only Aneurin Donald (26) demonstrated an assertive flair via four boundaries in five balls that would have been five if not for Northeast getting in the way to spill a straightforward chance on the point boundary.
Such shots then eluded Glamorgan for five overs, by which stage few could have envisaged them taking the points, let alone by the largest margin of their 183 attempts in the format. Respectability came courtesy of a steadfast David Lloyd (38*) and cameos from Cooke and Salter (12*) yielding 61 from the knock’s final quarter. Cooke received a reprieve on 6 as Northeast spilled another, this time sliding along the boundary just to knock it over and rob Chris Wood of a wicket, leaving Abbott to bear the brunt of a pull so high and far it might never have come down to open his third over. An ambitious (and failed) sweep attempt to a yorker on 22 at least saw Abbott redeem something on his way to his most expensive of 28 outings for Hampshire.