A terror track at the Ageas Bowl’s nursery ground forced this week’s Hampshire seconds clash against Gloucestershire to be abandoned.
Hampshire Academy’s venue – on the land adjacent to the main pitch – was deemed dangerous by the umpires after some fearful variable bounce became a serious threat to player safety.
Onlookers saw deliveries behaving very differently, with some rearing up at head height – while others scuttled through at shin high from the same length.
Although three innings had already been completed, there were already concerns, with some inconsistencies in the pitch making life difficult for batsmen.
Those worries escalated when Gloucestershire were bowled out in rapid time in their second innings, which sounded the alarm bells.
The courageous Lewis McManus and Sean Terry had both battled hard for their runs in the first innings but had collected some bruises along the way as they were peppered.
And it was when the young duo were at the crease at the start of Hampshire’s second innings when they were both struck with rising deliveries that the umpires decided they had seen enough.
There were few complaints when the players were taken off and the umpires subsequently called a halt to proceedings.
But it appears the decision was finally made after McManus took a hefty blow and was lucky to escape serious injury.
While the pitch was dry, with plenty of grass left on top, the worries grew when it started to break apart with divots becoming dislodged as the game progressed.
It now remains to be seen whether Hampshire will be punished with a points deduction in the competition or a possible fine.
But they could yet be just handed a warning and escape further punishment as long as there is no repeat.
Hampshire Academy’s Southern Electric t20 Cup home clash with South Wilts is still expected to go ahead on Sunday, although a different wicket will be used.
Meanwhile, the club declined to comment on the matter until they have received the official pitch report from the umpires.