Saturday, 28 August 2010

A draw will do!

When you have an entire day's play rained off, and you have to contend with the most on form batting lineup in the country, consisting of three 1000 run makers, a full bonus point draw and pretty much dominance of the match is extremely satisfying. After the loss of the first day I was annoyed but also a bit pleased as it meant that our chances of a loss were greatly reduced. As it turned out the rain in fact denied us an almost nailed on victory, such was our particular strength with the bat, and of course the presence of Cork. In recent years it has been our lower order hitting and bowling that has bailed the side out, it wouldn't be a proper Hampshire innings if Pothas wasn't at the crease by the time the team total had reached 100. This season however, injuries and an alarming spate of decent top order scores have conspired to put us in strong positions only to see the game slip towards a draw. Once again in the first innings of this match, after a typically strong Yorkshire start, Cork ripped through them, leaving the Yorkies 141-5. However Rashid was the thorn in our side again, though the Hampshire bowlers responded better after a poor hour or so to get Yorkshire to declare on 322-9, giving Hampshire maximum bowling points. The stand out of course was Cork, 5 wickets, but it was frustrating to see Briggs get no wickets, though by all accounts he was unlucky to do so.

Centurions at the top

Adams has been solid but not amazing in the Championship this season. After a huge century in his first innings of the year, he developed what I used to refer to as Vince syndrome, as he just could not convert all those 50s into 100s. Well, now I guess he has Adams syndrome, the inability to convert 150s into 200s! What a way to break a run though, 196 having batted in 3 seperate days and five sessions. Once again he was the rock for the mammoth score racked up by Hampshire, which saw 400 and the last batting point gained with four overs to spare. Truly a fantastic performance but at the other end a bloody miracle occurred. It's not often someone gets to more than double their previous best first class score, but that's exactly what James Vince did and what made it all the more sweeter was that that previous high score was 77. Vince has been talked of as a future England batsman but before this match had failed to convert numerous good starts into proper scores. Having played classical shots to every part of the ground, Vince would be almost nailed on to play a lazy swipe and end up trudging back with a handsome 30 on the board. However the strokemaking continued unabated this time around and my heart missed about 10 beats when I heard him dropped at gully on 82. Vince certainly took charge of the chance offered to him. With his own personal score on 92, the nervous nineties were negotiated as quickly as possible as Pyrah was dismissed for consecutive fours, sending the young 19 year old into deserved apoplexy. Without dwelling on the century, Vince set about the Yorkshire attack, eventually falling on the 4th morning for 180 from 205 balls. Adams scored 196 but the pair had turned the game completely around to put Hampshire into a no-lose position.

Vince's conquering of the century voodoo was satisfying enough, but what I was particularly impressed with was his attitude to the whole innings. As mentioned above Vince bats positively and correctly from the start, but from about 60 onwards he was pretty much into uncharted territory yet still played his natural game. The consecutive fours to get to his century as described above the perfect case in point. It would have been extremely easy and to be honest fully understandable if he had seized up when approaching three figures, but he played the way he knew he could, and he also played with the team in mind. With the monkey off his back, Vince then did more than could be asked for by the team, going into one day mode and combining with Ervine to set up a possibly match deciding innings. As it was though Yorkshire's batsmen showed their resilience to confirm a draw, but overall it was a wholly satisfying performance (Briggs got two wickets in the second innings, so even better). 11 much needed points and the unbeaten run in all competitions has been extended to something like 5 and a half or 6 weeks.

One in, one out  

Sadly the great Macca finished his inspirational stint at The Rose Bowl with a duck, as he returns to South Africa to compete in the Champions League. The repercussions of his presence on this team and club as a whole are worthy of a separate post, but it's fair to say that it has been nothing short of inspirational. Getting him to sign a new contract would be out of this world. That too is for another time but here and now the news is that Hughes will be available for this Sunday's game against Kent, a huge boost given the loss of both Macca and Lumb. Hughes has a very important job to do at the top of the order - Macca's runs were more often than not match winning, and with just 5 matches left in the season Hughes has to find the middle straight away. A few showers forecast for this Sunday but a decent day's play should be on. The team I would like to see take to the field is:

Adams, Hughes, Vince, Carberry, Ervine, Dawson, Bates, Cork, Wood, Briggs, Griffiths.

The top of the order looks very strong, whilst also keeping the young/experienced combination in the side. Griffiths provides some extra pace into the attack whilst there are plenty of options to get the full 40 overs done bowling-wise. Should be an interesting match, winning is the only option if we are to stand any chance of getting back to Lord's next month.

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