Hampshire’s batting frailties reared their ugly head again as fellow strugglers Worcestershire took command of their crucial Championship showdown.
After day one was lost to the weather, the Rose Bowl outfit are now staring at another first-innings deficit after they were bowled out for just 179.
While, Worcestershire closed on 112 for one at stumps last night – just 67 runs behind with nine first innings wickets still in hand.
While the green-tinged pitch looked to be offering encouragement to the bowlers, the Hampshire total was some considerable way down on where it should have been – especially after the fit-again Dominic Cork won the toss and chose to bat.
And only a spirited knock from Chris Wood (36) and Sean Ervine (27) partially helped to rescue a dire situation when Hampshire found themselves at 79 for six just before lunch after a disastrous morning session.
Suggestions that the pitch may be a batting minefield were then dismissed when the visitors cruised along for the loss of just one wicket in the evening session, with spinner Imran Tahir the only man to make a breakthrough.
With Jimmy Adams ruled out through illness, Liam Dawson and Michael Carberry put on 37 for the first wicket until Dawson top-edged an attempted pull shot and was brilliantly caught by Alexei Kervezee.
Hampshire then lost six wickets with just 42 runs added to the scoreboard and were left reeling at lunch at 80 for six as Alan Richardson (three for 37) and Richard Jones (three for 38) led the Worcester charge.
Wood and Ervine stuck around and led a brief counter-attack to add 48 valuable runs, while Cork (22) chipped in with a useful contribution as the tail at least showed signs of life.
But it’s fair to say that 179 all out was not what the doctor ordered in a game that Hampshire simply cannot afford to lose.
While it could be argued that it’s a must-win in terms of Hampshire’s survival hopes, their Rose Bowl four-day record remains somewhere close to dreadful, with a winless run stretching back to July 2010.
They’ve shown that they can rescue a bad situation with their stunning fightback in the win at Warwickshire last week. And now they need to do it all over again.
But James Cameron (41 not out) and Vikram Solanki (26 not out) appear to be in no hurry to let Hampshire back in the game.