Katich knock puts Hampshire in control at Headingley

Simon Katich. Picture: Neil Marshall
Simon Katich. Picture: Neil Marshall
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At six for two, it’s fair to suggest that things didn’t look all that clever for Hampshire on day one of their Championship trip to Yorkshire.

Liam Dawson (nought) had perished in the third over and was quickly followed by skipper Jimmy Adams (five) as the ball moved around to give the seamers a helping hand.

With those two back in the hutch at 11.25am, firefighter Simon Katich wandered out in an attempt to hose down the flames.

And when stumps were drawn at the close of play just after 6pm, the Australian batsman was still there with Yorkshire’s hopes thoroughly dampened by his brilliant unbeaten 180 in Hampshire’s 352 for five.

For an Aussie former Test cricketer, Katich is unusually modest and unassuming.

So while he’s unlikely to make much of it, the value of the 36-year-old’s classy knock should not be underestimated.

Too often in the past, Hants’ batsmen have made their centuries in attempting to save a game or when they have been playing catch-up in a match.

Those are all very well and useful, but hundreds are worth far more when they allow a team to control a game from the start.

This time around, Katich went big in the first innings to ensure his side are in charge.

They are now in a position to dictate terms against a Yorkshire side who have recently found their winning touch.

Questions were raised over the selection even before the first ball of the game when Bilal Shafayat was the unfortunate man to find himself left out of the side.

That was despite a fine 93 on his debut for the club last week as Hampshire opted to go with an extra bowler. But worries over a weakened batting line-up were soon put to bed after those early wobbles had been negotiated.

And while Katich was the top dog, special mention should also go to Sean Ervine (44) who played his typical fast-paced knock.

And also to Michael Bates (88 not out) who looked assured and confident throughout as he built the innings’ highest partnership of 145 alongside Katich.

Hampshire’s overseas recruit – who last reached three figures for the county in his previous stint back in 2005 – is one of those sportsmen who appears to have an extra split-second of time to everyone else when he’s on song.

But after coming to Hampshire’s rescue in their hour of need, he already has his highest score for the county.

He also has time on his side with a double hundred in his sights.