Dave Allen: Opening T20 Fixtures

Following the news that Hampshire Hawks will start their Vitality Blast campaign against Somerset at The Ageas Bowl, Club historian Dave Allen has reviewed Hampshire's history in opening T20 matches

When Hampshire went to the Oval last year, conceded a record total of 228-4 and lost by 72 runs it was their fourth consecutive defeat in the opening matches of the 2022 tournament. It seemed then that we had little prospect of going beyond the group stages yet we all know that Hampshire finished as Champions.

Perhaps then, while Adi Birrell and James Vince might not agree, a good start is not necessarily that important – and sometimes is misleading. When the T20 started twenty years ago we beat Sussex in the first televised game but lost the other four and went no further. In the following season we lost the first two to Essex and Surrey but went through to our first quarter-final. We did not win an opening game again or reach another quarter-final until 2009, when Sussex were again the victims as Jimmy Adams with 68* led us to a nine-wicket victory.

In the first seven seasons then, two quarter-final defeats were our best efforts but from 2010 things changed dramatically as we reached Finals day in seven of the next eight years and won the trophy twice, in 2010 and 2012. Were we helped by good starts? Not particularly. In 2010 - a season of 16 qualifying games - we began with a five wicket victory over Kent and ended with a last ball Final win over Somerset but in between we lost the second and third games and there were eight defeats overall.

By contrast, 2011 saw our best ever start with a win by seven wickets against 2023’s first opponents Somerset followed by four more victories and then by two games rain-ruined. We reached Finals Day as reigning Champions but in the semi-final Somerset had their revenge in the first ‘super-over’ playoff. In 2012 we started with an abandoned game in Sussex then lost consecutive matches to Middlesex and Kent but shrugged off that poor start to reach a Welsh Finals Day where we clinched our second trophy.

In 2013 we started by beating Surrey, won five of the first six, including a second against Surrey, had the other early game abandoned, but when we went again to Finals Day we lost the semi-final to Surrey by four wickets. In 2014 a first-day defeat by just five runs against Glamorgan was followed by four wins but another semi-final brought no joy with a 59-run defeat against Lancashire.

In 2015 we began well again, beating Essex (Adams 55*, Arafat 3-27) and winning three of the first four, another good start which took us eventually to a sixth consecutive semi-final but defeat again, to Lancashire, despite 69 from Vince. After that fine run, 2016 was a year to forget; there was brief late rally but an opening run of six defeats, an abandoned game and just one victory was too much to retrieve. In the following year however we were back to our best, winning the opening game in Cardiff and the next two which led eventually to Finals Day and a defeat to Nottinghamshire (Vince 56).

We started the three seasons from 2018-2020 with a defeat and two rain-ruined games and in each case there was a loss before there was a victory, and no Finals Day. Had the magic gone? It appears not since we have been back to Finals Day in the past two years with our third trophy in 2022 – yet in neither season did we start well. In 2021 we lost to Kent by 38 runs despite Crane’s 3-23 and after nine matches had points from just one victory (Chelmsford) and three ‘No Result’ games. We followed that with six wins and met Somerset in the semi-final where we contrived to lose from a strong position.

In 2022, we started by losing at home to Middlesex and followed that by losing the next two to Somerset and Essex. Having lost the first three for the only time in our history we added a defeat in that game number four at the Oval, then went from worst to best by bringing home the trophy. Intriguingly then in our three years as Champions, our victory against Kent in 2010 is not only the sole opening day victory in those three years, it is the only victory in the first three matches preceding our finest triumphs.


The best way to catch Hampshire in action all year long in 2023 is with a Hampshire Cricket Membership.

2023 Members also receive access to an exclusive allocation of tickets for next summer’s England Women’s Ashes ODI against Australia and the otherwise sold-out England Men’s ODI against New Zealand, alongside a whole host of other exciting benefits.

For more information on Hampshire’s Membership offering please follow the link below.

Hampshire Cricket Membership

Vitality Blast Passports – which offer admission to all seven T20 matchdays at The Ageas Bowl in 2023, including the double-headers with Southern Vipers – are now on sale at the discounted Super Early Bird rate of just £99 – and what’s more those fans securing theirs at the Super Early Bird rate will also receive a free ticket for a guest to use at the Hawks’ first home match on Friday 26 May.

Vitality Blast Passports
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