At 146 for two and with seven overs left in the day, it’s fair to say day one of Hampshire’s Championship division two clash with Leicestershire didn’t get off to the best of starts for the home side.
However, things were looking decidedly rosier at stumps, when four wickets fell for just 13 runs in 38 balls to leave the visitors at 159 for six at the end of yesterday’s play.
And on an April pitch with more than a hint of green to it, the biggest surprise of all was that the late flurry of wickets came from a spinner – and a part-time spinner at that in Liam Dawson.
David Balcombe, David Griffiths, Chris Wood and Hamza Riazuddin had toiled away without much luck on a day that only got going at 2pm after a morning downpour.
With Hampshire missing skipper Jimmy Adams for personal reasons, Simon Katich was placed in command.
Michael Carberry was deemed fit enough to play after his groin strain last week at Glamorgan – although he was by no means his usual self in the field and was hidden away on the boundary for the most part.
But it says much for Hampshire’s lack of squad depth that Adams’ absence opened the door for a first-team debut for Sean Terry – son of former batsman and coach Paul – with precious few other batsmen on the staff to choose from.
Griffiths got the nod for his first game of the season at the expense of Danny Briggs, with the pitch expected to offer precious little assistance to the spinner.
For the most part, it was the right selection policy.
Although nobody told Dawson.
He came in with a vital late contribution in the final half-an-hour’s play to drag Hampshire, not only back into the game, but put them on top going into the second day.
Griffiths and Riazuddin picked up one wicket each, but Leicestershire pair, Greg Smith (68) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (46), were going along quite merrily until Dawson intervened.
Perhaps the batsmen’s concentration dwindled, believing they had safely negotiated the tricky seamers – only to fall victim to Dawson’s sucker-punch late in the day.
Either way, his three wickets for 13 opened the door – first bowling Smith between bat and pad – and then picking up the prized scalp of RR Sarwan through a Sean Ervine catch at slip.