Ball One 0.02am – Hampshire open the bowling with slow left arm spin from Danny Briggs and it pays off immediately with a mishit caught in the deep. It’s quite the fashion to use spinners at one end at the start of a T20, but I can see slow bowling at both ends in limited overs cricket soon. What’s lost to the fielding captain in the powerplay’s field restrictions is gained by avoiding the hard ball flashing away from the edge anywhere behind the wicket. Pacemen may well be used mainly later in innings when yorkers and slow bouncers are realistic options.
Ball Two 0.08am – Looking lean and very fit and swinging and seaming the ball at pace, Simon Jones is a handful for the T&T batsmen. England’s bowling stocks are as high as ever they have been, but not so strong that this most unlucky of bowlers would not improve them. He won’t though, as his body belies its appearance with a fragility that has prevented Jones from playing much cricket since the high days of 2005. Comparisons can be made with Shaun Tait, but Jones has a lot more to offer than 140kmh pace and, once in rhythm, much more control.
Ball Three 0.25am – Using a vertical bat, playing orthodox cricket strokes with tremendous authority and timing, Darren Bravo has everything one looks for in a young batsman. Less experienced than two other exciting lefties making their way in the game, JP Duminy and Jesse Ryder, he may be the most talented of the lot. He’ll face better bowlers in the World Cup, which may be coming just a bit soon for him, but he’ll provide great entertainment if he gets in. Having ridden his luck, Bravo goes for 41 runs that foreshadow many more to come.
Ball Four 0.35am – Hampshire are in the Caribbean T20 as English champions (and I hope English cricket can reciprocate soon with an invitation to Trinidad and Tobago), but there’s a pleasing historical connection too. It was in Hampshire that shepherds came together to play a precursor of cricket in the 18th century, so it’s perhaps fitting that their county represents England in Barbados, an island even smaller than Hampshire, in the newest form of the game in a newish stadium.
Ball Five 1.00am – Just 20 and with Nic Pothas’ place becoming open, Michael Bates has the chance to establish himself as Hampshire’s wicketkeeper in all forms of the game. He has good hands, economy of movement over the stumps and athleticism standing back. His keeping is aggressive, seeking to crowd the batsman by standing up to all but the genuine quicks. He has represented England at Under-19 level, but if senior caps are to come his way, he will need to be just as aggressive with the bat. It’s a shame, but brilliance on one side of the stumps won’t be enough to gain representative honours.
Ball Six 1.08am – Danny Briggs’ fullish slow left arm stuff brings him figures on 4-0-9-2, which is about as good as T20 bowling gets. Also a product of England’s Under-19 set-up, he is still in his teens, but shows the nous of man ten years his senior. Australia found that England’s back-up bowling was very strong, when Tremlett and Bresnan slotted into the Test XI – the next generation has some talent too and is already gaining experience around the world.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.