Cricket: Hampshire under fire

Hampshire v Yorkshire
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The Independent Online
Even when their entire staff reports for work Hampshire have one of the county circuit's less intimidating bowling attacks. Deprived by injury of the experience of Cardigan Connor and Kevan James, and the back- up seam support of Dimitri Mascarenhas and Stuart Milburn, they can easily look like a weekend club side.

This is particularly true on a pitch as flat and sleepy as the one at the United Services Club, and was not helped when seven catching chances were refused during Yorkshire's dominating first knock. This tally, however, included a top edge by Gavin Hamilton during the declaration chase that climbed as high and straight as a church steeple before foxing Shaun Udal. Each Hampshire player had time to volunteer for the chance, but held his tongue.

The injury list has forced Hampshire to field two seam-bowling debutants at once, the former Oxford University player Chetan Patel and the first Guernsey man to play county cricket, Lee Savident, of whom the islander enjoyed the experience more.

Yorkshire's huge first innings was built on a fourth and biggest Championship century of the season by the stocky Australian Darren Lehmann, and yesterday his skipper Richard Blakey led the visitors' tail towards the 500 mark in pugnacious style, before hoicking the persevering Udal to mid-wicket.

The declaration came on cue to give Hampshire an awkward 15 minutes before lunch, and Yorkshire produced their own fast-bowling newcomer in the absence of Darren Gough. Paul Hutchinson's career to date has been unusual - just four first-class matches beginning two winters ago in Zimbabwe, a serious back injury last season and 22 wickets at 12 a piece. His second Championship ball speared into Jason Laney's pads for an early breakthrough, and after lunch he repeated the trick to dismiss Giles White.

However dishevelled they may be, Hampshire have two batsmen of world class well able to take charge on a hot and humid afternoon. The Australian left-hander Matthew Hayden, a Test player until the eve of the Ashes tour, settled into a long alliance with Robin Smith, on his day still one of the most dominating batsmen in the country.

Hutchinson and a brisk, bouncy Craig White apart, however, Yorkshire's attack seemed as toothless as the home side's as Smith sped past the more cautious Hayden to reach 94 at tea.