Sunday, 1 August 2010

From intrigue to snooze fest

What promised to be an eventful, perhaps tense day sadly turned into a turgid affair where the leave just outside off stump ruled as king. Hampshire began the day 4 ahead with 4 wickets in hand, though Bates and Balcombe quickly succumbed to Chapple, Cork still not out having got Hampshire past 300. Rain delayed the start and so lunch was delayed too. I decided on attending the rest of the afternoon session and the evening session, and to my amazement on my arrival, Lancs were not batting, but instead Cork and Tommo still occupied the crease! Even more, the pair had gotten Hampshire past the invaluable (ok, valued at 4 points) 350 score mark, within the 110 over limit. A beautiful cover drive from Tommo a highlight, as Cork reached 50 for the second time this season. Tommo edged Keedy to slip but it was agonisingly late for Lancashire, who missed out on the third bowling point by just 2 balls. Briggs came to the wicket and scored a run before a frankly lucky but impressive one handed tumbling catch by Chapple ended the innings on 369, a lead of 84. Lancs opened again with Horton and Smith, whilst Hampshire again opened with Cork and Tommo to start off the third innings. Like the first, Lancs were very circumspect in their approach to the game, Horton cutting Cork for 4 in the first over but little else followed. Infact nothing else followed as Smith and Horton insisted on leaving the ball at every opportunity. This eventually bit back at Horton, as a superb ball from Tommo nipped back on Horton who had shouldered arms, and the off-stump was knocked back.

Sadly at this point, the game as a contest died. Chilton joined Smith at the wicket and a few overs later the sun dominated the sky for the first time in the match, rendering the pitch useless and removing all swing and seam help. This basically left us with 4 fast medium bowlers whose only tool was now accuracy. At this stage it might have been expected for Lancs to step up a gear in the face of severely restricted bowling. However Lancashire, ever since Chanderpaul's dismissal on the first day, have displayed the image that they are not interested in anything except a bore draw. Smith reached his century, playing a few shots in anger early on against Briggs, before getting back in line and leaving/blocking the ball. Smith reached his half-century whilst Chilton must have done something bad in the changing rooms as there was no way he was going to risk doing anything of any kind in the foreseeable future that might result in something that isn't a dot ball. The pair were the very epitome of aggressive batting as they put together an unbroken partnership of 98 from about 48 overs. It wasn't suprising that with still 10 overs to go in the extended day, nearly the entire crowd had gone home to prevent any suicidal thoughts. Claims that the remaining supporters had all died of boredom were flatly denied.

So with the fourth and final day due to begin in about half an hour, barring a monumental Lancashire collapse in the morning session, or a monumental Hampshire collapse in the evening, this game is hurtling towards a draw. There is some cloud cover at the moment, which should at least make bowling less of a chore than it was yesterday evening. I expect half a mind will now be on the Durham match at Basingstoke which starts on Tuesday.

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