In an effort to be at the forefront of cricket's development, especially in this country, from Sunday past-time to national sport, Rod Bransgrove has developed The Rose Bowl into one of the best grounds in the country. The latest additions, two stands either side of the main pavilion, have raised the profile of the ground enormously, with 2 ODI's and 20/20 Finals Day being staged there this year. In all of this rush for money and development, a particularly treasured aspect of County Cricket is in danger of being lost. The outground has been the favourite of many supporters and members, a hark back to the older days, though of course grounds such as New Road and Hove still maintain a certain feel of being an outground. The days of playing at grounds such as United Services Ground in Portsmouth are over, but thankfully Hampshire have continued an arrangement with Basingstoke and North Hampshire CC to play a Championship match each season at May's Bounty. Tucked away on the outskirts of Basingstoke, admittedly not the most picturesque of towns, May's Bounty provides Hampshire and its supporters with (usually) 4 days of nostalgia, at least for the older members who fondly recall many games played at Northlands, Hampshire's original home. Even for those who were introduced to cricket after the shift to The Rose Bowl, the ground offers a character that does not fail to charm. Arriving at the ground provides a feeling that you are perhaps entering into a private party, tree-lined on two sides with a classic pavilion and scoreboard. The concrete strip that for 361 days of the year is used as a road from the gate to the pavilion is transformed into a concourse, serving idling members, those with ice cream and club staff frantically carrying shop stock in cardboard boxes.
What May's Bounty offers that is not available at The Rose Bowl is a ready access to the outfield. Instead of boundary boards, stewards and announcements to keep off the playing area, the boundary rope sits feet in front of the first row of seats. Intervals allow kids to play on the outfield without being removed from the ground and prosecuted, whilst those with more than a passing interest can get a close up look at the wicket. To compliment such a fine ground, some fine cricket was in order, and that was exactly what Hampshire provided. Having won the toss Cork elected to bat, Carberry and Adams making their way across an undulating outfield and to the middle. Overthrows on the last ball of the first over, bowled by Harmison gave a good indication of what was to come from the Durham fielders. A flurry of boundaries was ended with Adams nicking Harmison behind for 18. Strangely Durham turned to youngster Stokes as first change from the Town End, and after some decent overs, new man Lumb and Carberry began to find the boundary easily. A flying edge off of Carberry entered then exited the hands of Benkenstein for a drop that was to prove extremely costly. There were a couple of lbw shouts but umpire Benson in particular was having none of it. Lumb and Carberry were having none of it either and moved on to 99-1 at lunch. Last week Lancashire did their best to kill off anything and everyone associated with Hampshire. You could say that the afternoon session at May's Bounty was two fingers up at Lancashire, but more likely it was about securing batting points for a match that is heading towards a rain affected draw.
After a drop off Lumb by Mustard early on in the session, Lumb moved to 50 (Carberry had reached that point before lunch) both played a varied game against the pace attack, going through phases of consolidation followed by bursts of boundary hitting. Mustard brought the spinners on but this only served to cement Hampshire's dominance. I was worried about Lumb facing two spinners who turn it in to him, but after a watchful start he unleashed a full range of shots against Borthwick in particular, the cover drives for four and the six over long on particular highlights. Carberry maintained a similar pace at the other end, and despite the edge being beaten a few times neither batsmen looked in any trouble at all. It was as if Durham's bowlers had turned up for throw downs to the Hampshire batsmen and the milestones kept coming - team score 100, Lumb 50, 100 partnership, 150 team score, 150 partnership, 200 team score, 200 partnership, Lumb 100, Carberry 100, 250 team score, 250 partnership. By the time both teams left the field for tea the scoreboard read 298-1, and Hampshire had scored an incredible 199 runs in the afternoon session, at more than 6 an over. Second ball after tea the 300 was up, with the 300 partnership and Carberry's 150 following. Lumb then brought up his 150 before delaying tactics by Durham broke the partnership. Lumb I think called for new gloves and Durham took the opportunity to call drinks for them, as well as have a sit down, a team talk and toilet break for two players, Much to the bemusement of the umpires and batsmen. Benson broke up the team talk like he would a group of youths hanging outside a shop. Carberry must have been bored by this as well as Benkenstein's bowling which was wide of off-stump with a packed off side field. Sadly it worked as Carberry cut to point to fall for 162. McKenzie didn't last long, bowled rond his legs by a ball from Blackwell that seemed to hit a footmark or something. Lumb then fell lbw to Thorp for 158, Ervine the same but for 8 as Hampshire closed on 373-5.
The aim is of course to reach 400 and maximum batting points, and though the weather may be ok at the moment, the forecasts point to a lot of lost play over the next three days so the target will be to get as many bonus points as possible. Durham gave an image of 'we don't want to be here' Harmison in particular, reflective of a team that has been crippled by injuries and in fighting. How they will bat I don't know, as despite Lumb and Carberry's efforts the ptich does have something for the bowlers in it, so scoreboard pressure may play a part and Hampshire ca pick up bowling points too. Lumb and Carberry's partnership of 314 was the second highest ever for the Hampshire second wicket, just 8 runs short of the record.
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