HAMPSHIRE were left to count the cost of another Daryl Mitchell century against them after day one of their Championship clash at Worcestershire.
The Worcestershire skipper struck a third century in his past four innings against the Ageas Bowl outfit to extend a remarkable record.
From the 2011 season, Mitchell has reached 50 six times in 10 Championship innings against Hampshire for an aggregate of 706 at an average of 117.
After his 172 not out last season, he blasted 142 not out earlier this year and then reached three figures yet again with 105 not out on day one of a crucial clash in terms of the division one relegation battle.
The 31-year-old opener was the key man for his team as the home side reached stumps at 228 for five, with rain and bad light interrupting proceedings.
Mitchell’s partnership of 142 with teenager Joe Clarke (70) was a vital stand after Hampshire had made a bright start to the contest.
Jackson Bird (three for 77) enjoyed a profitable morning with three wickets in just 12 balls to leave the home side in trouble.
But after being reduced to 25 for three, Worcestershire did what Hampshire have failed to do so often this season and rebuilt the innings with a big partnership and a batsman going on to make a century.
Clarke hit a new career-best from 136 balls with a bold knock as Bird promised to lift Hampshire out of their worst run in eight years.
After five consecutive defeats, two of these in the Championship, losing the toss was perhaps not the worst thing that could have happened.
For an hour or two, bowling first was the most acceptable option.
Bird got the ball to dart around with some bounce, although it was a delivery of fuller length that accounted for Richard Oliver as he was pinned lbw (three) in the third over.
Bird then continued his impressive early form as he picked up further wickets.
Tom Fell (nought) fenced a low chance to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (one) took his bat away from a ball which cut back to take the off stump.
But Mitchell rode his luck and plotted his team’s path out of trouble with 10 fours in a brisk half-century.
When Clarke began to push on, Mitchell slipped into a more conservative role, adding only four boundaries before completing his century from 213 balls.
Clarke eventually nudged a catch to short leg off Danny Briggs after hitting 10 fours but the mixture of youth and experience continued with Brett D’Oliveira making 19 out of 49 before he was taken at second slip off the lively Brad Wheal.
It’s perhaps another day of a season when Hampshire will wonder if they should have made more of a promising position.
But the bigger questions will be answered when they start their first innings when someone in the Hampshire line-up must attempt to emulate what Mitchell did for his Worcestershire side.