Connor shatters the illusions

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The Independent Online
BARRIE FAIRALL

reports from Basingstoke

Hampshire 319

Leicestershire 7-2

These two, you might assume, would be well geared up for a return to three-day cricket, judging by the way things have gone for them thus far. On the one hand, win or lose, they have had plenty of opportunity to put their feet up, even if season-ticket holders may have grumbled about being short-changed.

Of the five matches each have played prior to their meeting at May's Bounty, only Leicestershire, on just one occasion, had experienced a fourth day's play but then, thanks to Cardigan Connor, they appeared to be treading a well-worn path.

Still, there should be plenty of scope for prolonging the action on this compact ground upon which Hampshire and Nottinghamshire shared over 1,300 runs last season and Mark Nicholas and Nigel Briers are in a positive frame of mind right now, the sides they lead on a roll and looking to complete a hat-trick of Championship successes.

Hampshire's batting had been their downfall until they feasted on Sussex and cleaned out Glamorgan. Here, the bulk of the run-making consisted of three steady half-centuries and a late blast from Connor in evening sunshine to bring up the 300 in the 97th over.

Conditions early on had favoured the seamers, Sean Morris taken at slip off the shoulder of the bat in Alan Mullally's second over and Paul Terry struggling for over half an hour prior to getting off the mark. Terry, pushing forward, then became a disgruntled legbefore victim against the bowling of Gordon Parsons.

When Paul Whitaker, who had marked his first-class debut last year by helping himself to 94 against Leicestershire, became the first of five scalps claimed by the wicketkeeper, Paul Nixon, Hampshire were 91 for 3. John Stephenson, though, who had contributed 43 to a partnership of 56, took a six off Parsons to go to his half-century.

Parsons gained his revenge the very next ball while Hampshire continued to do things by halves, Nicholas reaching his second fifty in successive innings and Giles White top scoring with 62. As for the late fun, Connor struck six boundaries and then removed Darren Maddy for a duck and Briers for one.

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