Magic moment was the cheer for an old boy transformed

Colourful fans during day one of the Test at the Rose Bowl
Colourful fans during day one of the Test at the Rose Bowl

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They say patience is a virtue.

And Hampshire finally got its reward for a long pursuit of Test cricket when Andrew Strauss led his side out on the field at the Rose Bowl.

It was a moment of history for the county as it became only the 10th venue England have called home in 130-odd years of Test cricket.

And you can bet there was a lump in the throat of chairman Rod Bransgrove as he was afforded the honour of ringing the bell to begin play – a nice touch – albeit an hour or so after the scheduled start time.

At 12.15pm, Jimmy Anderson fired down the first delivery in Test cricket at the Rose Bowl – his man-on-the-moon moment.

It was a small step for an England fast bowler but it was a giant leap for cricket in Hampshire.

An hour or so into the game, the first wicket was celebrated by the vocal supporters who had probably feared the worst when they made their way to the venue in driving rain.

Anderson found some swing and Strauss pouched the catch at first slip as both men booked their places in a future pub quiz for cricketing geeks.

Lahiru Thirimanne was the unfortunate Sri Lankan batsman, who on his debut was the first man to take the lonely walk.

And if he’s the bonus point in that future quiz, the winner will richly deserve their joint of pork.

While the official attendance of 6,439 was some way down on projected figures, it’s easy to understand why some chose to stay away.

The weather was less than welcoming to Hampshire’s new era, despite the ground staff’s fine efforts to get the pitch ready with such speed.

But those who did make it made enough noise to create a home atmosphere – even greeting the toss of the coin with a cheer – before they saw just under three hours of enthralling play.

But the most telling moment was a generous reception from the fans for Chris Tremlett after his two-wicket burst put England in command on an abbreviated first day.

One wag was overheard making a back-handed compliment on Tremlett’s obvious transformation from a talented county bowler – who could often look out of sorts – to a genuine Test match brute.

The un-named gentleman in a Hampshire shirt said: ‘That big guy who is bowling fast and looking so dangerous looks a lot like that Chris Tremlett who used to play for Hampshire.’

Same guy, different bowler these days though. And the watching Tremlett clan will have been proud to see their lad perform so well on his old stomping ground.

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