Hampshire hopes fade fast at Wantage Road

James Vince

James Vince

Michael Comber bats for Suffolk in Minor Counties group stage match against Bedfordshire     PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Suffolk turn their attention to longer format as they prepare to face Buckinghamshire in opening Unicorns Championship fixture

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Hampshire face an uphill struggle to avoid defeat after Northamptonshire took charge at Wantage Road.

The visitors were bowled out for 154 in reply to the home side’s 218, on day three of the Championship clash.

Giles White’s side faced a potentially crucial deficit of 64 runs at the midway point in the contest.

But at stumps, Andrew Hall’s side had extended the lead to 240 with five wickets still in hand.

And on the evidence so far, the total already looks too many for Hampshire to chase.

Northamptonshire will fancy their chances of running through a decidedly brittle looking Hampshire batting order.

But they may well fancy an hour in the morning to push that lead on just a bit further and then make sure they give themselves time to bowl the visitors out.

After day two was abandoned without a single ball bowled, play remarkably started on time on day three.

While the temperatures felt more suited to cross country skiing in the Arctic circle rather than cricket, the one redeeming factor was that it was dry as spectators attempted to wrap up against the elements.

There was some assistance for the bowlers and despite the efforts of Liam Dawson (35), James Vince (46 not out) and Chris Wood (25), there was precious little resistance from the rest of the batting line-up after they resumed on 42 for three.

Dawson had looked in good nick.

But he dragged what appeared to be a juicy half-volley on to his stumps.

Simon Katich (13) followed soon afterwards with an uncharacteristically tame dismissal, caught at short mid-wicket.

Sean Ervine failed to trouble the scorers just two balls later with a poor stroke to lob one up to short mid-wicket as Hall (four for 24) picked up another scalp.

And when Michael Bates departed for a duck the visitors were 84 for seven.

It was left to Vince and Wood to rescue the situation with a partnership worth 58.

Their efforts at least got Hampshire towards respectability.

Vince – who has looked out of sorts lately – was far more like his old self.

Some fluent strokeplay from the talented batsman was out of keeping with the rest of the match.

Wood, meanwhile, continues to show he can definitely bat, although he rode his luck with some streaky inside edges at times.

But needing a clatter of early wickets to seize back momentum, Hampshire toiled in the field, failing to extract anything like the same kind of movement the home side had found.

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