Ageas Bowl welcomes back crowds – but rain cuts short Hampshire’s Championship clash with Leicestershire

Spectators returned to The Ageas Bowl for the first time in 610 days today - but the weather cut short their entertainment.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 8:26 pm
Spectators watch the LV=Insurance County Championship match between Hampshire and Leicestershire at The Ageas Bowl today. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images.

Only 26.2 overs were bowled on the opening day of Hampshire’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Leicestershire, writes IAIN McCULLOUGH.

Hampshire were 53-1 when the decision was taken to call off play for the day due to a saturated outfield, following a torrential downpour after lunch, after an early tea had been taken.

Ian Holland was unbeaten on 24 and Tom Alsop was 15 not out in front of 1,300 Hampshire members.

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Lewis Hill of Leicestershire chats with Hampshire fans on the boundary during the LV=Insurance County Championship match at The Ageas Bowl today. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images.

The start of the match, the first first-class fixture in England to host paying spectators since September 2019, was delayed due to soggy ground in the bowlers' run-ups, with visiting skipper Colin Ackermann winning the toss and choosing to field before play got underway at noon.

Chris Wright and Alex Evans bowled well without luck before the struggling Joe Weatherley edged a decent delivery from Wright to Ackermann at slip for 11.

The former England U-19 captain has endured a tough season at the top of the order where he averages 15.81 from his last 11 innings. He remains the only player in Hampshire's top-six not to post a century this season.

Holland should have followed his opening partner back to the pavilion when Wright tempted him with a wide delivery only for Rishi Patel to put the chance down just before lunch.

Alsop and Holland put on 33 for the second wicket before play was abandoned at 4pm.

Holland said: ‘It's been a long time without a crowd and it did feel a bit different, but really nice as well.

‘It's great to have the supporters back and really important we get back to feeling quite normal out there.

‘It's quite tough batting, we just need to get as many runs as we can and hopefully we can bowl well and see how the game progresses.’

Ackermann added: ‘If we are being highly critical we would have liked maybe another two wickets, although we did create that chance that went down.

‘We bowled well enough to pick up three wickets for the session.

‘It is doing a bit when the ball is in the right area so moving into tomorrow we just need to control the scoreboard.’