Cricket: Hampshire back on the rack

Derbyshire 523 Hampshire 166-2
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The Independent Online
When J B Priestley wrote: "I have been here before", he probably did not have Hampshire in mind. Yet there they were again yesterday, going through an entire session without being able to break an eighth-wicket partnership, facing another massive total and then digging in for what threatens to be a lengthy, but important, rearguard action.

The day looked like having a happier ending than beginning for them when Jason Laney and the prolific Matthew Hayden put on 110 together, but Andrew Harris prised them out in one over. Hampshire will hope that occasional signs of irregular bounce do not become more frequent while they are still so far adrift.

There has been concern in some circles that Harris is not the bowler he was on last winter's England A tour, but he found the right line to the left-handed Hayden, who was forced to play at a ball angled across him and caught quite brilliantly at slip by the diving Chris Adams.

Hayden had made 235 not out, 119 and 118 (the last in the Sunday League) in his previous three innings. He was starting to punch the ball away with formidable power off the front foot. Laney, having been dropped at slip at 18, was leg before two balls later when his footwork, for once, betrayed him.

Only time will tell whether Derbyshire's attack, with four seam bowlers and Vince Clarke's variable leg spin, has enough variety for this pitch. Hampshire laboured on it to such an extent when Adrian Rollins and Paul Aldred were extending their partnership to 149 that their captain, John Stephenson, made little attempt to hide his frustration at it all.

Rollins went on to compile his second double-century out of only six three-figure innings. Aldred showed a nice line in cover drives in making a career best 83, but he should have been caught, or at least dropped, at slip off Simon Renshaw at 15. One reason for Stephenson's rage was that the ball flew past two motionless fielders. He knows more than anyone that this attack cannot afford such lapses.

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