Hampshire falter again as Somerset’s Willoughby piles on misery

Jimmy Adams cuts on his way to 74 Picture: Robin Jones
Jimmy Adams cuts on his way to 74 Picture: Robin Jones
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Hampshire’s middle order batsmen failed to fire again leaving their side on the back foot in their Championship clash with Somerset.

With Jimmy Adams (74) and Liam Dawson (91) building an excellent 136-run opening partnership, the foundations were there on day one of the four-day encounter.

But Hampshire fell well short of the 300 mark as they were bowled out for 285.

In their two previous Championship fixtures, Hampshire have been playing catch-up after the first innings, fighting back for a draw against Durham but tumbling to a crushing defeat at Nottinghamshire.

And while their fate is not sealed in one innings, they look set to face a similar battle this time around, unless the bowlers can dig the batsmen out of a hole when Somerset resume on 40 without loss today.

The collapse from 136 for no wicket to 208 for six owed much to Charl Willoughby’s excellent spell of bowling as he accounted for Neil McKenzie (30), James Vince (0) and Nic Pothas (1) to finish with figures of four for 40.

But Hampshire know they should have posted far more than the 285 all out, considering the position they found themselves in at lunch as Adams and Dawson cruised along to 100 without loss.

Dawson was unlucky to fall just nine short of what would have been only his second first-class century when he got the faintest of nicks behind, attempting to pull Steve Kirby.

But while he looked a model of composure at the crease, he will have become increasingly concerned at the procession of partners joining him and then leaving just as quickly.

Johann Myburgh (10) departed when he wafted an attempted drive way outside his off stump and Sean Ervine (1), who lobbed up a horribly loose drive straight to cover, ensured that batsmen three, four, five, six and seven accumulated just 42 runs between them.

The fact that the home side got up to 285 was largely thanks to Dominic Cork (44) who produced an entertaining counter-attack, including a boundary blitz as he hammered Gemaal Hussain (four for 83) for five consecutive boundaries in one over.

But a combination of some mid-afternoon swing and some poor shot selection offered some worrying evidence that there is a lack of application in the middle order to dig in when required and see out the tricky spells.

Hampshire have often been described as slow starters, following recent campaigns that saw them come stumbling out of the blocks and this season looks no different so far.

But on this evidence, it’s not their beginning but their middle that should be raising the most concerns.