FP TROPHY (at The Rose Bowl): Hampshire 202-6 beat Worcestershire 201-8 by four wickets.
Despite a great effort from Worcestershire's bowlers - with bat and ball - Hampshire crept home at the Rose Bowl last night to throw the Royals' hopes of progressing to the latter stages of the Friends Provident Trophy into serious doubt.
It has been a sorry few days for Steve Rhodes's side, whose chances of qualifying from the South West Division have been severely undermined by the dismal batting of their top order, first at Taunton and then here.
Like Hampshire, they will now have to win their final two games to stand any chance of securing one of the coveted top two places.
At 66 for six after 18 overs yesterday, the only plausible explanation was that the devil was at work in the Rose Bowl pitch.
Not so, instead his demons spread into the minds of Worcestershire's short-on-confidence top order and made them play shots they would never normally attempt.
How the visitors ended up reaching 201 is purely down to the belligerence of Gareth Batty (52, 80 balls, one four, one six) and his lower middle order parnters Kabir Ali (28, 46 balls, one four), Gareth Andrew (30, 59 balls, one four) and Steve Magoffin (24, 22 balls, two fours, one six) who batted wonderfully well given the mantle they had been handed.
It gave them a total, and one they manfully tried to protect.
From these shores only Andrew Flintoff could produce a spell of bowling like the one Simon Jones mustered in his opening six overs last night.
He was unplayable at times; merely exceptional at others.
He was back bowling at 90 mph-plus and while the odd one went astray his threat was persistent.
Chris Tremlett, of Hampshire, had been named in the England squad for the Second Test at Old Trafford the previous evening.
While he bowled well, he was overshadowed by Jones who will be impossible for the England selectors to ignore if he finds the sus-tained form that looks more likely with each passing week.
Quite simply, he is a match-winner, even though he could not win this one.
That was left to Hampshire wicketkeeper Michael Brown, whose career best of 96 not out (127 balls, ten fours), guided them home
with Dimitri Mascarenhas (56, 89 balls, four fours), and promptly saved his side from a similar rout to the one they endured at New Road nine days ago.
The Hawks fielded a much stronger side from the one that lost then.
Tremlett and Mascarenhas, temporarily back from his duties at Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, were the most notable inclusions, alongside the promising teenager Hamza Riazuddin, who had only taken his ALevel Physical Education exam the morning before the game.
Their presence made a huge difference to the Hawks' bowling attack, which rattled through Worcestershire's top order with such ease it seemed that this day-nighter might simply become a dayer.
Steven Davies did not survive the first over, nicking one to wicketkeeper Brown off Mascarenhas.
Moeen Ali, averaging just 13 in this competition, lasted only two balls before he fell to Riazuddin, caught at short extra cover via a leading edge.
Captain Vikram Solanki failed to halt the slump, edging a rising Mascarenhas delivery to first slip.
It was a poor start, eerily similar to the debacle that unfolded at Taunton on Sunday, and it was made worse when Ben Smith needlessly drove at a very wide one and shoved it to cover
and then when Graeme Hick got a jaffer from Tremlett which he could only edge to second slip.
An early finish looked nigh.
Daryl Mitchell, the one player to emerge with credit from Sunday with a fine 92, got a second ball duck, edging to slip off Tremlett before the tail wagged and got Worcestershire a target to defend, albeit a small and unsatisfactory one.
But they started the recovery job admirably and could more than sniff an unlikely victory after reducing Hampshire to 65 for six off 18.
Kabir Ali trapped Michael Carberry in front with his second ball before Steve Magoffin, again excellent, bowled Michael Lumb with a leg stump yorker.
Chris Benham was run out by Kabir greed-ily looking for a third before Jones stamped down the early authority.
He went for under a run an over for his first four and in that time picked up Jimmy Adams caught behind and trapped the dangerous Greg Lamb in front, beaten for pace the very next ball.
Everything, including the Sky television cameras, were pointing towards the Jones Show - but his second and third bursts were not as productive, which allowed Brown, the little devil, the chance to steal the limelight. n Peter Moores believes "common sense" will prevail in the discussions about how Eng
land split the jackpot for the proposed multi-million pound Stanford Twenty20 matches.
Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford wants England to play a series of one-off Twenty20 matches in Antigua against a West Indies All Stars line-up in the next five years with £10mil-lion on offer for the winners each time.
Stanford's agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board - which also includes a quadrangular international Twenty20 tourna-ment at Lord's each summer - is due to be fi-nalised by lawyers in the next week.
But England's players are still to reach agreement on a fair split of the proceeds and talks are due between the Professional Cricketers' Association and the ECB to try to deter-mine a fair division of the millions.
Coach Moores is anxious this does not distract his players in the middle of the npower Test series against New Zealand, which continues at Old Trafford on Friday, and has called on all parties to be fair in their demands and discussions.
"The key is to make it fair and take the time to make the decision correctly," said Moores. "It's a different thing and the key is to take the time we need to make sure we make fair decisions.
"They should be transparent to everybody so everyone knows why they've been made. We'll do that through decent discussion and make sure common sense will prevail."