Will Smith led by example with a steady half-century to set up an exciting final day of Hampshire’s County Championship clash with Nottinghamshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Smith, who is stand-in-skipper while James Vince is with England this summer, notched his first fifty of the season on a deceptive track.
The former Durham batsman reached the milestone in 141 balls to give the home side a 270-run lead with two wickets in hand going into the fourth day.
Events on the field, though, were overshadowed by the news that bowler Reece Topley, has been ruled out for three months – and the entire international season – after being diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back.
Having joined from Essex, Topley – who is a member of England’s limited-overs squads – has endured an injury-ravaged start to life at the Ageas Bowl.
Indeed, hit on his hand while batting on debut, the highly-rated 22-year-old had yet to bowl a ball for his new club before reporting pain in his lower back while training.
The news he will face an extended period of time on the sidelines came as a blow for all concerned at Hampshire.
Director of cricket, Giles White said: ‘It really is disappointing, especially for Reece but everyone around here.
‘First the hand and then the strange re-occurrence of a back injury.
‘We will support him through it but hopefully we will get him back before too long.
‘We are looking at August and there is plenty of cricket in August and September and maybe he could be the difference.
‘There’s nothing anyone can do about it, it is just about supporting him now and getting him back as soon as possible.
‘The list keeps going on and on but we have hung on in there and we have had a great performance from the lads today.’
Hampshire will begin the final day tomorrow with two wickets in hand a 270-run lead – with White happy with their day’s work.
He added: ‘We are happy where we are, asking the opposition to score the biggest score of the game.
‘It wasn’t easy, Notts put us under pressure to get where we are.
‘Hopefully we can get more of a lead in the morning then it is down to the bowlers to do the job.’