Hampshire captain James Vince salutes ‘outstanding’ start as Somerset are thrashed by an innings in LV= County Championship opener at The Ageas Bowl

Hampshire captain James Vince saluted ‘an outstanding start’ to the 2022 LV= County Championship season.

By Community Sport Reporter
Sunday, 10th April 2022, 2:42 pm

Mohammed Abbas and James Fuller shared seven wickets yesterday as Somerset were thrashed by an innings and 113 runs inside three days in the Division 1 curtain-raiser at The Ageas Bowl.

Fuller had torn through the top order with a trio of quickfire wickets in a brutal morning spell, before Pakistan international Abbas ripped out the middle-order en route to 4-22, writes ALEX SMITH.

‘From the very first ball we dominated the game,’ said Vince. ‘I’m not sure there is [an area to improve ahead of facing Surrey this week).

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Hampshire's James Fuller took the first three Somerset wickets on day three of the Championship curtain-raiser at The Ageas Bowl. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

‘I left at lunch on day one (to attend his father-in-law’s funeral) and I believe we lost our lines and lengths for a bit, but quickly rectified it to bowl them out for 180.

‘You aren’t going to get every ball in the match right but I think we dominated every session.

‘The way Foz (Fuller) cracked it open for us is why he played this game. When the ball gets a bit softer and the wicket a little flatter, he offers something a bit different.

‘He isn’t going to replicate the other guys’ economy rates but when the situation needed something different, he came up for us and was outstanding.

Hampshire's Mohammad Abbas took 4-22 in the second innings of his county's thrashing of Somerset. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

‘We didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did but the way Mo came out after lunch really took the sting out of them again.

‘We are surprised it finished so quickly but is credit to how the lads played.

‘It is an outstanding start and gives us an extra day off to prepare for The Oval. It is a great confidence booster.

‘It is only early doors but if we can get close to replicating that performance then, after the first chunk of the season, we’ll be sitting pretty.’

Hampshire missed out on just a single bonus point as they claimed only their second innings victory over Somerset – who received a single point from the match after being bowled out for 180 and 135 – since 1957.

Hampshire have only won two Championships in their history, in 1961 and 1973.

The famed Test Match Special commentator and journalist John Arlott wrote that the ’61 team was “deep in run-making power, soundly equipped at all points of attack and in which every man was worth his place – a true Championship side.”

Those words look like they could equally be applied to their modern counterparts at the end of the year based on a perfect three days.

A menacing bowling attack, led by the highly experienced Test duo of Abbas and Kyle Abbott, coupled with a batting line-up which feasibly has centuries down to No.10, gives the county their best chance of a title in many a generation.

Realistically they knew 10 wickets would likely be enough to taste victory on day three, but a solid opening hour between Ben Green and Tom Lammonby gave the suggestion a tough day’s graft was in order.

The opening pair put on 50 in considered style, on a pitch proved placid by Hampshire’s 428, before Fuller entered the attack to take three wickets in 22 balls.

Green was bowled through the gate, skipper Tom Abell was trapped in front trying to work to the legside and Lammonby turned a short ball behind – having twice looked uncomfortable against bouncers.

Abbott returned for his second spell of the day, only to be flayed for 12 runs in an over by Lewis Goldsworthy, before starting the next over with a James Hildreth boundary.

The South African, therefore, celebrated with a predictable send-off when he pegged the first-innings half-century maker’s off stump back.

Post-lunch, Hampshire were rampant. Abbas was Somerset’s major punisher as Steven Davies edged to second slip to the first ball on resumption. He then castled Roelof van der Merwe and found Peter Siddle defending into the cordon.

Barker had Goldsworthy squared up and deflecting to first slip before the left-arm seamer turned catcher at short third man as Ned Leonard impatiently failed with a slog against Liam Dawson’s spin.

Abbas returned again to send Marchant de Lange’s off stump for a tumble and secure the victory at 2:40pm - making Hampshire the first side to win a Championship game in 2022.

Somerset’s performance must be put in some context. Seven players were already made unavailable before travelling, before George Bartlett succumbed to a shoulder injury the day before the game and Jack Brooks woke up with an illness.

Their inexperience showed in the bowling of youngsters Leonard and Kasey Aldridge - 19 and 21 respectively - with some quick, exciting stuff beset by an understandable lack of consistency. The batting also largely writhed against the triage of Abbas, Abbott and Barker.

The good news is their season starts for real against Essex next week, with the majority of their absentees set to return. Included in that throng will be Craig Overton, Jack Leach and Jack Davey.

Somerset (1 point) 180 & 135 lost to Hampshire (23) 428 by an innings and 113 runs.