Briggs and Jones hearten Royals
An extraordinary return of 3-5 by Isle of Wight-born spinner Danny Briggs eased Hampshire Royals to an emphatic 45-run Friends Provident t20 win over Kent Spitfires at Canterbury.
The 19-year-old left-arm spinner ran through the Kent middle order in the space of four overs to secure Hampshire’s sixth win in 11 in the South Group, while inflicting an eighth defeat on the Spitfires, who now look unlikely to qualify for the knockout stages.
Batting first in what transpired to be a low-scoring clash on a spin-friendly pitch, Hampshire limped along at seven an over – a sedate pace for t20 – especially against an injury-ravaged Kent attack.
Sean Ervine comfortably top-scored for the visitors, clattering 44 from 26 with six fours before he top-edged a catch to the keeper off Malinga Bandara.
Otherwise none of the Royals top order moved to 20 as Sri Lanka spinner Bandara took 3-14 and occasional off-spinner Martin van Jaarsveld 3-25, a haul that included the scalps of Nic Pothas and Dominic Cork for a first-ball duck.
Kent lost Joe Denly early in the reply when a crisp pull-shot against Chris Wood, which the right-hander believed might sail for six, simply picked out Jimmy Adams at deep square-leg.
Spitfires skipper Rob Key and van Jaarsveld coaxed the home score through to 28 before Key, on 22, looking to pull a short one from Wood through the leg side, bottom edged the ball onto his foot only to see it trickle back onto the stumps and remove one bail.
Without the experienced duo of Darren Stevens and James Tredwell, both on England Lions duty, Kent’s middle order struggled to hit boundaries as Hampshire skipper Cork took pace off the ball through Briggs.
The teenage slow left-armer, who said afterwards he “didn’t bowl one bad ball”, had left-hander Alex Blake caught at backward square-leg off a miscued paddle and Matt Coles snaffled at deep cover.
Kent’s last hope rested on the shoulders of former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who reached 16 from 17 balls, but when he slogged across the line to be bowled, Kent’s hopes of progressing beyond the knockout stages went with him.
Talking after securing the win with 21 balls to spare, Briggs said: “It came out well. I just kept to my plans and have got more confident as the tournament has gone on.”