Cricket: Croft makes a big impression: Graeme Wright at Swansea

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The Independent Online
Hampshire 417 and 150-3; Glamorgan 288

SIX runs all along the ground took Glamorgan past their follow-on target of 268 at St Helen's yesterday morning after an inspired spell of bowling from Malcolm Marshall had threatened to have them batting again before lunch. Having begun the day needing 51 at least, with five wickets in hand, they were down to their last pair when Darren Thomas bottom-edged a Marshall no-ball past the Hampshire wicketkeeper, Adrian Aymes, to the relief of the home county's supporters.

Marshall took four wickets for 17 in his first nine overs to enjoy his first five-wicket return of the summer. That, plus a tally of only 18 wickets in the Championship before this match, has been a signicant factor in Hampshire's lowly 16th place in the table.

But if the morning was dominated by Marshall's pace, the afternoon belonged to Glamorgan's off-spinner, Robert Croft. It was not just that he took the first three wickets to fall as Hampshire built on their first innings lead of 129. On Friday his marathon of 62 overs had set a record for a Glamorgan bowler in an innings. When rain stopped play just after tea yesterday, he was two overs away from the Glamorgan mark for a match - Len Muncer's 90.5 overs against Sussex.

With Thomas conceding 24 runs in his first three overs, and Roland Lefebvre retiring after two overs with a sore side, the signs were ominous for Glamorgan as Robin Smith drove and pulled his way to 37 of Hampshire's 49 by lunch. But Croft, extracting turn and lift at the sea end, soon exposed Smith's fallibility against spin. Two confident appeals for close catches were turned down before a third, high to David Hemp's right at short-leg, was upheld.

Paul Terry failed to clear mid-on, while Mark Nicholas looked short of options when he chipped Croft to mid-wicket. However, David Gower and Rupert Cox, both left-handers, played with greater circumspection to increase Hampshire's lead to 279.

Though without Lefebvre's bowling, Glamorgan were indebted to his batting. Two sixes off Shaun Udal and a four off Marshall, meant he left Thomas and Steve Barwick needing just nine to complete the rescue act.

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