Hampshire let slip an excellent position as Lancashire’s tail made an important contribution on day one of the vital Championship clash at Liverpool today.
Jimmy Adams, who continues to skipper the side in the absence of the supposedly rested Dominic Cork, appeared to have made a good decision to bowl first after winning the toss at the Aigburth ground.
But despite making promising progress to reduce the title-chasing hosts to 125 for five at one stage, Tom Smith (63), Gareth Cross (34), Glen Chapple (76 not out) and Kyle Hogg (47 not out) took their side to 337 for seven with a fine counter-attack as the Hampshire bowlers failed to threaten.
It’s not the first time this season that Hampshire have been well on top and allowed the opposition’s lower order batsmen to prosper.
And it’s perhaps one of the major reasons why they find themselves staring down the barrel of relegation, knowing that they need to win both their remaining fixtures to stay in division one.
As a strong wind and low temperatures gave the game a distinctly autumnal feel, Hampshire were full of the joys of spring when they collected two early scalps.
Stephen Moore (five) was the first wicket to fall as Chris Wood picked up his first of two expensive wickets.
And when Karl Brown (16) was run out, it looked encouraging for the visitors.
Sean Ervine then struck with two wickets in two balls to dismiss Paul Horton (35) and Steven Croft (nought) to leave the hosts in trouble at 98 for four and it looked even better for Hampshire when Luke Procter (45) was removed by James Tomlinson.
But Smith and Cross added 58 for the sixth wicket, before Chapple joined Smith to put on 55.
With the search for wickets becoming harder and harder, Chapple and Hogg then made Hampshire pay with an unbroken partnership of 99 with some flowing strokes.
Instead of looking to defend a first-innings total of around 250, Lancashire will have their eyes on something nearer to 400 when play resumes tomorrow.
And with Hampshire knowing they need to win this match to keep their hopes of survival alive, their prospects already appear to be dwindling.