Neil McKenzie must be wondering what it is he actually signed up for at Hampshire. I expect the job offer from Hampshire went along the lines of "we need a highly experienced top order batsman to come over on a kolpak status to fill the gap left by a retired highly experienced top order batsman. There are a few weaknesses in the top order so we're looking for you to solidify that." I'm not sure how detailed this contract was, but I doubt it included being made acting captain after the three previous incumbents had all been injured, being told to bat out almost an entire fourth day with just 6 fit players and one with a tendency to bleed everywhere, as well as bowl a third of a session yourself on the third evening because everyone else had either bowled 20 overs +, or was currently in the changing room being treated for injury. Luckily McKenzie is quite a versatile kind of guy, and with two opening batsmen, a 19 year old batsman, an Aussie allrounder playing his first CC match, a 19 year old wicketkeeper and two bowlers (though Tommo's batting can not be underestimated), McKenzie stood defiant against an experienced team, actually with 11 men, who were hunting a win to go top.
Christian castles Willoughby to end the innings
After the third day that turned into a nightmare, Somerset still had 3 wickets in hand and a 108 run lead in the first innings. Hildreth was the man in form and the man at the crease, but after a roughing up and a blow by Tommo that may yet keep him out of Finals Day, Hildreth could only add 2 to his overnight 128 before edging the left armer behind, Vince actually holding a catch this time. Kartik fell in a similar manner, though Adams took the catch, and Somerset were 9 down and Tommo had 7 of them. Christian had the nerve to deny everyone's favourite left armer a replica innings haul of two years ago by cleaning up Willoughby and Somerset were all out for 412, Tommo ending with 7-85. If only the other bowlers could match that strike rate. So a lead of 128 and still another 80+ overs scheduled for the day, Hampshire looking to bat and bat and bat and give Somerset not a sniff of victory, especially after what Yorkshire managed to do earlier in the season at Taunton. It was announced that Lumb was out for the season, a foot broken by the Bedwetter and another match injury to add to Cork and Ervine. Carbs and Adams set about batting out the day, adding 47 before Adams swept Kartik to leg slip. Carbs fell 8 runs later, bowled by Willoughby and suddenly Hampshire were in trouble. McKenzie took on the responsibility, coming in at 3 and with Vince at the other end he looked to save the match. This they did very well, adding 85 runs and taking plenty of time out of the game, until Vince edged behind for 43 to leave Hampshire in effect 12-3. Christian was next man in at 5, with just Bates, Tomlinson and Briggs left in the changing room. It appeared one of them would be needed quickly as a de Bruyn ball forced its way through Christian's helmet, splitting open his nose and gashing the eyebrow. 5 minutes of blood, treatment and sawdust later, the man from South Australia was willing to bat on, despite Cork's waving of a makeshift white flag from the balcony. In the circumstances Christian did extremely well, seeing off 10 overs worth before being castled for 36 by Suppiah.
McKenzie drives and pulls Trego on his way to a match saving 60*
McKenzie took on his Cement persona at the other end, reaching his half century whilst Bates, in at 6 at the other end, looked to settle himself into county cricket by striking three boundaries as Tresco realised the game was up just before 5 pm, shaking the captain's hand in the middle and stopping any more pain and injuries for Hampshire. 8 valuable points were Hampshire's as it lifted them above Essex and Kent in the table, Somerset taking second. Ervine and Cork did not reappear for the fourth day, and it is still unlikely if they will be available for Finals Day. Lumb's injury is a real kick in the teeth, or foot, as he was getting into some serious form and could have made the number 3 spot a position of strength for us. As it was it looks like Vince or McKenzie will have to take up those duties, or perhaps Dawson will come into the mix again. Lumb's injury makes the semi-final selection a bit easier, as it simply removes the discussion of trying to fit him into the team. Ervine will be a huge miss if out, and you'd expect Dawson to take up the middle order allrounder role whilst Razzaq moves to opener with Adams. If Cork doesn't make it then McKenzie must play as captain, and I'd bring Jones into the lineup. Though it weakens the batting it's the best we can do. How will Finals Day go? to be honest on players and form I can't see us winning, but this is the big stage and anything can happen in 12 hours of cricket. How Cork and Ervine fair will be key, but we basically need two big innings and good bowling throughout from Wood and Briggs. It's going to be really tough, and we're no doubt fourth favourites, but we're there on merit and we have a chance.
Think the humour/ huggable nature of Wes, plus the knowledge of greyblazer, then reverse it and you have a blogger basically resembling me. I spend way too much time following cricket and writing very poorly about it, so for those with a sympathetic streak, enjoy the blog!
Like anyone would be interested in a label called 'crap'...