Even the most churlish critic of Twenty20 must admit that it brings in the crowds - more than 11,000 turned up here yesterday - and provides thrilling entertainment. Or it seems to when Surrey play anyway as they followed up Thursday's extraordinary win against Middlesex, in which Tim Murtagh took a competition record six wickets, with another tense, error-strewn match against Hampshire.
This time, though, sensible cricket prevailed and Hampshire won through the application of that most important tool in a cricketer's armoury, the brain. It took a wily old pro and a young thruster desperate to make amends for a howler of an error in the field to do it, though. Shaun Udal and Jimmy Adams deserve plaudits for the way they relied on good technique and accumulation rather than slogging with more hope than expectation. That they needed to, however, was because their own top order had mimicked Surrey's earlier failings.
The Lions had slumped to 26 for 5 with a swipe, slog, miss and nick and the game should have been won then. Attack is all very well and, let's be honest, necessary, but James Benning lofted a catch to mid-off, Scott Newman was bowled attempting to drive, Ali Brown smashed one giant six and then perished next ball attempting the same, and Dominic Thornely edged a drive.
Hampshire, minus a beleaguered Shane Warne, were ecstatic and when Rikki Clarke put up another steepler to mid-wicket it looked like the match would not last 20 overs. Clarke tucked his bat under his arm and started for the pavilion but Adams dropped the catch. Clarke then compounded the bowler's misery by smashing him for six the very next ball.
It proved a costly miss as Clarke, revealingly for his team-mates already dismissed, began to score with good shots. However, he never enjoyed long enough support at the other end, both Ian Salisbury and Murtagh promising a partnership before being bowled. Clarke reached his half-century, but when he was last man out, caught at long-off, Surrey still had over four overs remaining. Not an ideal strategy, but Murtagh's miracle was fresh in their minds and Surrey have never lacked for confidence.
Hampshire do, though, especially without Warne and Kevin Pietersen, and when Brown sprinted back from slip to third man to claim a wonderful catch and then followed it next over with a direct-hit run out, the visitors were starting to panic at 6 for 2. Greg Lamb settled them with some powerful drives over cover but his dismissal with the score at 49 started a collapse that was mostly self induced.
Craig McMillan swept Nayan Doshi, the left-arm spinner, to deep mid-wicket, Sean Ervine inexplicably tried a reverse sweep and was stumped, Lawrence Prittipaul got a leading edge off Harbhajan Singh and then 19-year-old debutant Mitchell Stokes slogged tamely for a duck.
At 66 for 7, Surrey appeared to have escaped defeat once more and the reason was they held every chance offered. The basics in the field were being adhered to and it was a salutary lesson for both sides batting that when Adams and Udal applied the same, dare one say, old fashioned discipline to batting, they put on a chanceless and match-winning 53.Reuse content