Marshall leads way as Hampshire hopes are dented

Sohail Tanvir. Picture: Neil Marshall
Sohail Tanvir. Picture: Neil Marshall
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As another Championship division two fixture appears to slide towards a draw, Hampshire’s promotion hopes continue to dwindle.

Although the first day was abandoned without a ball bowled, the prospects of steaming through the Gloucestershire batting line-up looked encouraging on day two with a green pitch unveiled and a flying start for the home side’s newest recruit.

But while Pakistani seamer Sohail Tanvir (two for 68) struck to claim a wicket in the first over, the procession of visiting batsmen failed to materialise.

So that positive mood from the first session was somewhat different at 6.30pm as the visitors closed on 349 for seven.

Unless something remarkable happens over the next 48 hours – or the teams decide they might forfeit an innings in the quest for a result – this one looks ready to be chalked up as a sixth draw in eight games this season.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to realise that is far too many, both for Hampshire and for Championship cricket in general.

County cricket tends to get a rough deal from some quarters and admittedly there is little players can do when the weather strikes.

But aside from the conditions, Hampshire have still been unable to find a method to win four-day games at the Ageas Bowl with any regularity.

The reality is that the batsmen dominate the bowlers far too often on Hampshire’s home track.

A pitch with a distinctly green tinge was the latest strategy to kick-start a promotion bid that has ground to a halt in recent weeks.

Even with the selection of Dimi Mascarenhas ahead of Danny Briggs, the Hampshire attack were unable to bowl their opponents out – a recurrent theme of their four-day campaign this term.

Tanvir certainly raised hopes when he removed Michael Klinger with the final ball of the first over and he later added the scalp of Chris Dent (35) to underline the fact he could be a useful addition.

But if you win the toss and choose to field, as skipper Jimmy Adams did, you would expect more of a return for that decision.

David Balcombe (two for 79) and Mascarenhas (two for 40) toiled away, James Tomlinson bowled without an awful lot of luck and Liam Dawson stepped up manfully as the spin option.

But the bottom line was that Hampshire needed a cluster of wickets to fall and it never looked like happening.

Hamish Marshall (114) can take a lot of the credit for that with a fine innings, while Benny Howell (54) turned in a decent display on his return to the county.

And that will give Gloucestershire hope they can bowl Hampshire out cheaply and force a win.

But having lost so much time already, this game needs to be played in fast forward if there is to be any hope of a result.

And by the looks of things, someone has lost the remote control.