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Hawks fly as Spitfires crash
Hawks fly as Spitfires crash

James Vince demolished Kent Spitfires with an obscene Vitality Blast century as Hampshire Hawks romped to a fifth straight victory.

Hawks skipper Vince recorded his third T20 century with exactly 100 in 54 balls as he combined with Tom Prest – who impressed with his second format fifty – for a 128 stand for the second wicket.

With Ross Whiteley’s six-ball 23, the hosts bashed their third-highest T20 score of 221 – something Spitfires never looked like chasing, eventually falling 54 runs short, in front of the largest Ageas Bowl crowd of the season.

After four straight losses to start the Blast, Hampshire have got on a roll and moved into the top four for the first time. Holders Kent remain rooted to the bottom of the South Group with two wins from nine.

Having been stuck in, Hampshire were only 32 for one – Ben McDermott skied Grant Stewart – at the end of the powerplay, and 12 of those came in the sixth over. That inauspicious start ramped up as Prest and Vince found their gears quickly.

They started by using the expansive Ageas Bowl outfield to milk ones and twos, before accelerating into boundaries. The turning point from normal accumulation to intergalactic striking was Stewart’s third over which went for 25 runs. Prest started with a slog-swept six before Vince rounded it out with six, six, four.

From then on, the Hawks flew. Only one over in the second half of the innings went for fewer than nine runs. Both Prest and Vince reached half-centuries in 34 balls as they became the first Hampshire duo to put on 100 together in a T20 versus Kent.

After Vince had taken George Linde for 17, including a huge maximum over the leg side, Qais Ahmad ended the partnership on 128. Prest’s slog sweep only went up as he departed for a season-best 52.

If Vince had noticed his partner had morphed into Joe Weatherley or not his steely demeanour and crisp ball-striking wasn’t affected. His second fifty came in 19 balls – 53 balls in total – and was coloured by three towering sixes into the leg side and five fours.

He fell a ball later, which only brought Whiteley to the crease. He and Weatherley put on 40 in 10 balls to take Hawks miles past 200 – with 30 coming off the final over.

The ginormous score, albeit the third-highest around the country on Friday night, was only beaten in Hampshire’s record books by 249 at Derbyshire in 2017 and 225 vs Middlesex at home in 2006.

Kent’s reply couldn’t have started worse as Daniel Bell-Drummond and Jordan Cox were both caught in the ring before the end of the third over. Sam Billings was bowled by James Fuller not long after, but Joe Denly and Alex Blake added 54 to momentarily fight back.

Denly drilled to long off, Alex Blake to long-on, Linde to a sprawling mid-off, Jack Leaning was cleaned up and Qais was caught and bowled as Kent ended up on 167 for eight and Hampshire cruised to the two points.

Hampshire Hawks captain and batter James Vince said:

“It was comprehensive in the end. We were a bit cautious at the start trying to get used to the fresh wicket and then we got the momentum going. After a few big overs we were looking at 180 but we ended up with 220, it was outstanding.

“After the first four games we weren’t getting off to good starts so taking that extra time early to sum up conditions has played a big part in the big score. It allows the guys coming in at the end to hit freely. 

“When the spinners came on there wasn’t a lot there so we felt we could target them and with a strong breeze going to the slightly shorter side we targeted that and got the momentum going.

“Personal milestones are nice. I’ve felt in reasonable touch but I was clearing the ropes and got better as I went on tonight. Hopefully I can go on from here and start striking it a bit cleaner. 

“It was looking pretty bleak a few weeks ago but the guys have been really good. After the start we had getting into the top four is the main priority and if we can keep this momentum going then we might finish in the top two but there is still a lot of work to be down to finish in the top four.”

Kent Spitfires captain Sam Billings said:

“Any time an opposition gets 220 you are up against it. You need to have one guy to stand out and have supportive guys around him. 

“We just gave them too many runs. James Vince showed the classy player he is and the supporting players around him propelled them to a total way out of sight. 190 was a par score on that and the difference in 30 runs is huge.

“We have to go game on game. It is always difficult when you start poorly in a competition like we have. We are not putting it all together. It has been bits and pieces.

“T20 is such a volatile game and when you get on a run, positively or negatively, it is hard to revert that. You see most teams go on runs in competitions and we haven’t been our usual selves this year. The squad has been tested in terms of injuries and there are some tired bodies and that puts everyone under pressure.

“We aren’t playing our best cricket and we are trying to think of different ways to get the team back on track but our template of being successful in the last few years we are not playing up to simply enough. Collectively as a team we just haven’t been good enough in all areas.”