Cricket: Hampshire bow to Bowler's double century

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The Independent Online
Hampshire 158 and 81-1

Derbyshire 475-4 dec

THE bowlers bowled and Peter Bowler batted . . . for a total of eight hours yesterday. All that was missing was the sight of a white flag running up the pole here, Hampshire long since having shown all the signs of surrender as the Derbyshire opener registered an unbeaten 241, a career best and the season's highest individual score.

The end product of this chanceless occupation of the crease left Hampshire requiring 318 to avoid an innings defeat, which is not the best way of going about the task of closing the gap on Essex at the top of the table. No, for two days now Hampshire have been on the receiving end of heavy incoming flak and, David Gower apart, are experiencing life in the trenches.

Whether they emerge to save this match remains to be seen and last evening, with Gower blazing away from the hip and Tony Middleton playing the rearguard role, there was still a glimmer of hope.

The day, though, had belonged to Bowler. With a century already under his belt overnight, he proceeded to gather in another 139 and you had the feeling that nothing here was ever going to shift him.

Tim O'Gorman enjoyed himself, too, until he flashed at Mark Nicholas to finish five short of three figures. Even so, it was his best effort of the summer and the stand of 259 was a Derbyshire record against Hampshire. Bowler, meanwhile, pressed on and others were to profit in his company.

Chris Adams, for instance, helped raise 93 for the fourth wicket before edging one to Bobby Parks to give the Hampshire wicketkeeper his 1,000th dismissal. Dominic Cork next joined in and he had contributed 66 in a partnership of 110 by the time Derbyshire decided enough was enough.

So Hampshire never did see the back of Bowler, whose score represented the third highest in Derbyshire's history and the biggest made against these opponents. He also moved up in the national rankings - the leading run-maker with 1,343 and heading the averages on 103.3.

Mind-boggling stuff, indeed, and an occasion for some light relief courtesy of Gower. Not for him the block it out approach as seven deliveries were dispatched to the boundary in evening sunshine. And there he sits three short of a second half-century in this match. Hampshire would be grateful for his continuing presence for a while longer today.

Durham went for broke against the Pakistanis at Chester-le-Street yesterday with dashing centuries from Wayne Larkins (118) and Dean Jones (134), their 341 for 4 declared the highest county score against the tourists. Durham led by 33 runs, but that quickly vanished as Pakistan raced to 186 for 2 at the close for a lead of 153, Aamir Sohail making 90.