Falling crowds appear to have left little option but to cut back on this year's overblown domestic Twenty20 when the 2011 competition is drawn up but there will at least be home interest on Finals Day 2010 after Hampshire booked their place at the Rose Bowl on 14 August with a narrow victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
It is the first time Hampshire have reached the last four in the eighth year of the tournament. James Vince steered them home with one ball to spare with an unbeaten 66 off 52 balls, extending a painful record for Warwickshire, who were runners-up on the competition's launch in 2003 but have subsequently lost six quarter-finals.
Chasing a modest 154 to win, Hampshire were cruising until the final balls of their innings, having needed only eight runs from the final two overs.
But by conceding only three from his last over, Neil Carter set up a tense finale, although he should have made Hampshire's life more difficult still by running out Vince, who was well out of his ground, backing up, when the Warwickshire all-rounder shied at the stumps and missed.
In the event, Hampshire were denied boundaries as Keith Barker, who had gone for 10 in his penultimate over, was nominated to bowl the final over. Vince and Daniel Christian knew that ones and twos would be enough to see their side across the line, though, and they held their nerve, Vince pushing into the leg side for the winning single.
Earlier, Jimmy Adams had become the first batsman from any county to score 600 runs in a single Twenty20 season. Warwickshire's Steffan Piolet took two wickets with slower balls and took a superb catch on the mid-wicket boundary but also conceded 17 runs in one over.
Darren Maddy and Barker put on 49 in 33 balls for the second Warwickshire wicket before Maddy added 36 in 26 balls with Jim Troughton for the third.
Warwickshire were tied down a little in the middle overs, when no Hampshire bowler was more effective than Danny Briggs, their 19-year-old left-arm spinner, who dismissed both Barker, who took a stride down the pitch and effectively yorked himself, and Maddy, who skied to long-on. Briggs's three wickets increased his haul to 27, making him the most successful slow bowler in this season's competition.
At 95-5 in the 13th over, Warwickshire were looking hard pressed to mount a score even remotely challenging but Tim Ambrose and Rikki Clarke added 58 off the final 45 balls to give their bowlers something to defend.Reuse content