AFTER a third Edgbaston semi-final defeat in four years, the bad news for Hampshire is that T20 Finals Day returns to Birmingham in 2015.
It was like Groundhog Day in rainy Brum as Hampshire added to the disappointments of 2011 and 2013.
But this worse than the Super Over defeat to Somerset and even Surrey last year, when Hampshire’s batsmen also failed to deliver.
Once again, they had to deal with rain interruptions, but they had no complaints about having to chase a Duckworth-Lewis revised target of 143 in 16 overs.
As captain James Vince said: “A few years ago we lost to Somerset after posting a decent score and Duckworth-Lewis probably cost us that game. But we backed ourselves to get 143 off 16 with ten wickets in hand.
“The guys at the back end didn’t bowl quite as well as they could have done but we’d have taken that. The batters killed the game, really.”
Vince was the first to go, mishitting James Anderson’s fourth ball straight to cover.
“We always target the first five overs, you have to go hard up front, but the bat skewed in my hand a bit,” he said.
Michael Carberry spliced to mid-on four balls later.
“After that we lost wickets consistently,” continued Vince. “We were poor on the day. Not to make them work hard for the victory is the most disappointing thing.”
Jimmy Adams did his best with a 39-ball 53. He got off the mark by driving two of his seven fours in three balls against Anderson and also struck former Hampshire teammate Kabir Ali for six over long-off in the powerplay.
But Adams, whose fourth half century of the tournament meant he finished as Hampshire’s top scorer, did not get the support he needed.
Owais Shah was as effective as you would expect of someone who had only flown in from a family holiday in Dubai a few hours earlier.
And Will Smith, having bowled outstandingly, was stumped down the leg-side against when England’s Jos Buttler dropped the ball on to the wicket.
With Hampshire 49-4 at halfway, Sean Ervine flat-batted Tom Smith for six only to steer him into the hands of backward point.
Adams needed someone to produce the sort of innings Andrew Flintoff would go on to perform in the final.
But Matt Coles went for a two-ball duck when he handed slow left-armer Stephen Parry a simple return catch and Adam Wheater chipped Kabir to mid-wicket before Liam Dawson stretched for a wide ball and edged behind.
Lancashire began to celebrate their place in the final when Adams was caught on the mid-wicket boundary against Anderson, who finished with 2-24 in his first game against Hampshire for seven years.
It was game over when Chris Wood was out with 11 balls remaining.
Hampshire had been pleased to restrict Lancashire to 160-5 from the 19 overs that were possible before the second rain interruption, an innings held together by Ashwell Prince’s unbeaten 72.
They had considered a shock T20 recall for James Tomlinson, eight years after the left-armer made the last of his two appearances in the shortest format. Had rain delayed the start, Tomlinson may well have swapped his Radio Solent microphone for his bowling boots. As it was, Hampshire showed faith in the attack that served them well at the end of the group stage.
Once again, Will Smith was the pick of it. Hampshire’s find of the tournament finished with a career-best 3-15, including the scalp of Jos Buttler, who was lbw trying to reverse sweep.
Hampshire’s slow left-armers did not reach the same heights and Matt Coles struggled for accuracy in conceding 50 - the most expensive figures of his T20 career.
But, ultimately, it was Hampshire’s batsmen that lost them this one. “That performance wasn’t acceptable,” admitted Vince.