Smith shows Willpower as Hampshire seal draw

Will Smith hit a century. Picture: Neil Marshall
Will Smith hit a century. Picture: Neil Marshall
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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Will Smith’s unbeaten 142 kept Hampshire on course for promotion on the final day of the County Championship match against Kent at the Ageas Bowl.

Smith’s efforts earned his side a draw and five points more in their quest for promotion.

Hampshire closed the day 248 for nine, with Smith alongside James Tomlinson at the crease.

It was the perfect way for the opener to celebrate his new deal signed this week.

The Hampshire hero also praised Tomlinson for digging in at the end.

Smith said: ‘My hundred was right up there with my best in terms of the situation we were in.

‘Batting was tricky against two quality spinners bowling into the rough.’

‘Tommo hung around when it mattered for the second time in the match to show what a class number 11 he is.’

It was a tough watch for the Hampshire players on the balcony.

They had to bite their nails a bit as Smith battled on but lost partners around him.

It had been a similar story in the first innings with Sean Ervine making a vital century then.

Captain Jimmy Adams felt the draw was again a good example of the determination in the Hampshire ranks.

He said: ‘Time went slowly for the rest of the team on the balcony and we were counting down the overs.

‘But the last-wicket pair did a terrific job.

‘In terms of resilience we have shown ourselves a tough team to beat this year.

‘Ervine and Smith dug us out of a hole with their centuries. They were magnificent.’

Hampshire, second in division two, now go into their final fixture next week at Glamorgan with a precious 10-point lead over third-placed Essex.

Kent were held up not only by Smith’s obduracy but also by rain which washed out any play until 1pm and lost them vital time to complete their domination of the home side over the four days.

When stumps were drawn, Hampshire were only 92 ahead with Smith and last man James Tomlinson at the crease, having survived 12 overs together to defy a ring of close fielders.

At the close Smith had faced 304 balls and hit 16 fours.

While Tomlinson, his partner in those nail-biting last few overs, had managed only two singles.

Earlier, Hampshire lost six wickets for just 30 runs to spark some panic before the late rally ensured they avoided defeat and boosted their promotion bid.