Wayward Hampshire surrender first-innings lead

Former Hampshire overseas player Marcus North is cleaned up by David Balcombe. Picture: Neil Marshall
Former Hampshire overseas player Marcus North is cleaned up by David Balcombe. Picture: Neil Marshall
England's Mason Crane will make his England Test debut when the fifth Ashes Test begins at Sydney Cricket Ground tonight

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A week or so ago, Hampshire’s fielders were probably casting their eyes towards the sky in the vain hope of seeing some dry and warm weather.

After chasing leather around the Ageas Bowl on day two of their Championship clash with Glamorgan, they were probably left wishing the rain had started again.

A sweltering day in the field is not everyone’s idea of fun and even with one of the greenest tracks ever seen on Hampshire’s home pitch, the batsmen still made hay.

Head groundsman Nigel Gray – in his testimonial year at the club – has seemingly tried everything to help the club end their lengthy search for a home win in Championship cricket.

But Glamorgan – the division two whipping boys so far this term – edged past Hampshire’s first innings total for a slim first-innings lead of 11 runs yesterday.

And after bossing day two, they ensured this match will now effectively be a one-innings shoot-out.

Hampshire’s bowlers must have fancied their chances after Sean Ervine’s century on the first day had helped post 316 all out.

But for too many of their bowling attack, the radar was on the blink.

A bowler-friendly pitch it may well have been – although the ECB pitch inspectors who were present were perfectly happy with its playability.

But on far too many occasions, the ball disappeared down the leg side where it was either glanced away for four or sometimes didn’t even need the bat to help it on its way.

Poor Michael Bates pulled off several tremendous takes but even the young wicketkeeper simply couldn’t cope with some of the wayward stuff.

The biggest frustration were the glimpses of what could be achieved with a bit more accuracy and pressure.

James Tomlinson (three for 60) and David Balcombe (four for 91) picked up the majority of the wickets but both of them – and the rest of the attack will know they served up too many loose deliveries.

Glamorgan, who have batted woefully until now, found some form with William Bragg (73), Marcus North (70) and a bright Dean Cosker knock (40 not out) helping them build a solid total.

In contrast to Hampshire’s erratic efforts on day one, the Welsh club never looked fully set but were never in danger of collapse either as they climbed into the lead.

The game is still up for grabs, though, with two absorbing days in prospect after Hampshire reached 25 without loss at the close.