Cricket: Hartley lifts Hampshire hopes

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Surrey 171;

Hampshire 171-6

THERE WAS a chill wind blowing Surrey no good yesterday. It may well be Festival Week in Guildford but on this evidence the celebrants appeared to be Hampshire, so much did they dominate proceedings.

They may be tucked in just behind Surrey in the table, but they were certainly not prepared to play second fiddle to the championship leaders as they demonstrated in the first 45 minutes of a sultry overcast morning, by which time they had consigned five of the home side's batsmen to the pavilion.

Hampshire boast three international players in their team, Surrey have ten. The performances were proportionally inverse. Luck did go Hampshire's way, but that is poor consolation for the likes of Alec Stewart, who must be under a degree of pressure to keep his opening place in the Test team.

He was just getting into his stride and looking for some form when he was adjudged leg before, one of four wickets for Peter Hartley, who looked particularly sharp throughout. Stewart further complicated the England issue by opting to keep wicket (which he has chosen not to do for his country) and enter the batting stakes at No 6. His Test colleagues Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe had been given barely any time to settle before they were hustled back, the former to a sharp caught and bowled by Hartley, the latter top edging an attempted hook off the other Hampshire success Nixon McLean. He, too, picked up four wickets. If it had not been for the Surrey captain, Adam Hollioake, who played a flawless face-saving innings, the leaders would have been in even worse bother.

Hollioake stepped into the breach in the ninth over at a calamitous 45 for 5 and patiently played Surrey back into a position of dubious respectability. He finished unbeaten on 63 and, helped by Alex Tudor and Martin Bicknell, ensured that Surrey's last three wickets added 97 priceless runs. Their show closed in 41.3 overs.

Although Bicknell struck a blow with his first delivery, Jason Laney falling leg before, and then got the verdict against Will Kendall - who anyway had survived three chances and had looked uneasy throughout his brief stay - a few overs later, Surrey then ran up against Derek Kenway, who bats as solidly as he is built.

His captain Robin Smith, who made a good looking 40 before becoming Bicknell's third victim late in the day, reckons the 21-year-old Kenway is capable of making it all the way to the top. If the Farehem-born opener carries on in this vain he will most definitely attract the right sort of attention. He handled the pace and accuracy of Tudor and Bicknell with aplomb and was never cowed by the awkward off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.

That he only gave a solitary chance - a stumping off Saqlain - during his near four hour stay was testament to his application.

It was Kenway who pulled Hampshire level as the darkness gathered, straight- driving Salisbury to the boundary and immediately afterwards a cold shower drove them off early.