Hampshire’s slim chances of getting anything out of their Specsavers County Championship division one clash with Lancashire took a distinct upturn after no play was possible following lunch on day three.
The visitors will take great heart from a captivating morning session which saw them battle through to lunch with eight wickets still intact and the score 76 for two, leaving them trailing Lancashire’s first innings score by 271 runs with three sessions to bat.
A gloomy Emirates Old Trafford greeted the players in the morning and the Hampshire pair of Michael Carberry and James Vince must have known they were in for a tough examination from James Anderson as they resumed on 22 for one – still trailing the hosts by 325 runs.
Predictably, given the helpful conditions, it wasn’t long before England’s record Test wicket-taker struck.
With just 11 balls delivered, he got his fifth wicket of the match to angle across Carberry, who edged behind to the diving Alex Davies for 16.
The former England opener looked unhappy with umpire Michael Gough’s decision as he trudged off, motioning to his batting partner that the ball may have deflected off his leg.
With just one run added to the overnight score, the prospects of Hampshire getting through to lunch without further losses seemed bleak.
So credit goes to Vince and Will Smith, who rebuilt the innings with determination and grit.
Smith took 43 balls to get off the mark but reached 13 not out by the interval.
Meanwhile, Vince progressed to an unbeaten 39 off 147 balls which included a top-edged six off Neil Wagner.
Many have seen this game as a rehearsal for Vince’s elevation to the England Test squad and it was obvious that this was an innings that mattered.
As the players took lunch, the rain predicted for the afternoon duly arrived and did not let up for the remainder of the day.
But with the forecast far more favourable for day four, this game is still very much Lancashire’s to win.