Down with a fight - now Hants need help from home pitch

Hampshire centurions Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie
Hampshire centurions Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie
Tom Alsop. Picture: Neil Marshall

Hampshire crushed in T20 by Somerset

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Visitors Warwickshire may have been attempting to secure the County Championship title on the final day of the season, but Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie had other ideas.

Already relegated from division one, Hampshire had precious little to play for, other than personal pride.

But they showed that in abundance as they batted out the final day of the campaign, with Carberry (111) – only given out with a shocker of an lbw decision – and McKenzie (115 not out) helping themselves to centuries as the home side reached 327 for seven when the draw was agreed, handing the title to Lancashire.

Some may argue that it was too little, too late from a side who simply haven’t found themselves in winning positions on their own turf too often this season.

But Hampshire have batted out for draws plenty of times and this was the sixth occasion in eight games where it ended in stalemate after four days.

If one lesson has to be learned from this campaign, it must surely be how to deliver a pitch that can produce positive results.

Six draws and two defeats in eight games is no good to anyone and while head groundsman Nigel Gray has done a marvellous job in transforming the Rose Bowl’s old reputation for terror tracks, it has surely now gone too far the other way.

Bowlers simply struggle to take wickets at the Rose Bowl these days – and even when a pitch is prepared to spin and set up a result, the ECB step in with an eight-point deduction.

What should have been a thrilling climax to the season simply drifted along as Carberry and McKenzie made the most of a pitch that offered precious little help to the bowlers.

It should not be overlooked that both men played extremely well, with a variety of pleasing strokes, and were each a model of concentration during their time at the crease.

But cricket should be about the battle between bat and ball.

Far too often at the Rose Bowl, the bat has bludgeoned the ball into submission.

That balance needs to be rediscovered in time for next April when Hampshire will begin their quest for promotion from division two.