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Cricket: Vitality T20 Blast Preview

Hampshire Hawks start the defence of their Vitality Blast T20 trophy on Wednesday with the smoke just about having cleared from their controversial triumph from last year.

The county – who play Somerset at Taunton – managed to pull off a famous victory over Lancashire last July, but the recriminations sounding from the runners-up went on long after skipper James Vince had lifted the trophy.

Lancashire needed five runs to win off the very last ball when Nathan Ellis clean bowled Richard Gleeson.

That seemed to be it, except after all the jubilation came the realisation that Ellis had over-stepped and it was a no-ball.

That left Lancashire needing three to win (two runs are awarded for a no-ball in the Blast), which, in fact, was only two to win as a tie would give them the trophy based on a higher score in the powerplay.

Lancashire’s Gleeson then played and missed, but the batsmen scampered through for a bye. They tried to claim a second when the celebrations began early again, and later insisted the second run – and the trophy – should have been theirs.

The protests were dismissed but the whiff of outrage could still be in the air when the Hawks face Somerset for their first since that dramatic triumph.

The South Group of the Blast again looks stronger than the North and Somerset head coach Jason Kerr says: “We’ve had some great tussles with them (Hampshire) over the years.

“They’re a well organised one-day outfit and are the reigning champions so it will be good to be able to benchmark ourselves against them and hopefully come away with a win.”

No team has ever successfully defended the Blast trophy and with Somerset having lost to Hampshire in last year’s semi-final, it may be time for some revenge.

Elsewhere, Northamptonshire Steelbacks host Worcestershire Rapids and Kent Spitfres hope to shoot down Gloucestershire in Canterbury.

Northants have had a dismal start to their four-day County Championship season and are rock bottom of Division One.

 Kent will be hoping Australian international white-ball specialist Kane Richardson makes an impression on his debut for the county.

Vitality T20 Blast

Northamptonshire Steelbacks v Worcestershire Rapids

Venue: County Ground, Northampton (6.30pm)

Kent Spitfires v Gloucestershire

Venue: The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (6.30pm)

Somerset v Hampshire Hawks (7.00pm)

Venue: The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton

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