Ruthless Hampshire in charge on day two

Michael Bates. Picture: Neil Marshall
Michael Bates. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Hampshire’s rediscovered ruthless streak was in evidence once again as they put themselves in with a great chance of recording another Championship victory.

Having resumed their first innings on 332 for seven, Michael Bates (50) led the home side to 388 all out before the bowlers did their part and left Derbyshire staring down the barrel at 166 for seven.

With a lead of 222 and with three Derbyshire wickets to take on day three, Jimmy Adams’ side are in a position to take full advantage – if the weather plays ball.

But there is a definite difference to the Ageas Bowl outfit’s four-day cricket this season.

When sessions have drifted along aimlessly in previous seasons, allowing rivals to drag themselves back into the game, this time around there is more tenacity to make the most of footholds in the game.

To grab those extra 50 runs in the morning session with Bates, Kyle Abbott (15) and James Tomlinson (10) playing their part built on the foundations of a gritty display with the bat on day one, was important.

It also secured an extra batting point before they collected two more with the ball as Danny Briggs (four for 29) and Abbott (two for 22) did most of the damage with the ball.

On a green pitch that doesn’t look like it will be hugely helpful to Briggs, he extracted some surprising bounce and turn to put doubt in the Derbyshire batsmen’s minds.

Paul Borrington (10) was the first to depart as Briggs struck and Sean Ervine held a good catch at slip before Ervine (one for 22) found the edge of Wayne Madsen’s bat as Will Smith held a sharp chance in the slips.

Marcus North (14) and Stephen Moore (53) looked well set before Briggs and Abbott both pinned their men lbw to leave Derbyshire in trouble at 101 for four.

And when Scott Elstone (25) and Alex Hughes (32) both departed to the Briggs and Ervine combination, eyes were turned towards the follow-on target of 239.

While it seems unlikely that will be enforced with Briggs’ spin set to come into play even more on a wearing pitch in the final innings, Adams and coach Dale Benkenstein may want to check the weather forecasts before making that decision.

But former Hanpshire skipper, Shane Warne, often used to shun the follow-on tactic knowing that his skills would get even more assistance in the fourth innings.

Of course, Derbyshire may yet have their own say if they bat well on day three.

But that would also involve Hampshire showing a more charitable nature.

And on the evidence so far this summer, that seems decidedly unlikely.