Cricket: Kasprowicz's tough baptism

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The Independent Online
Hampshire 282-7 v Essex

It seemed like a good idea at the time, a touch overcast with a drop of moisture thrown in and a new Australian fast bowler to be unleashed on the County Championship. When Graham Gooch won the toss then, Hampshire were put in to face what the Essex captain imagined to be the music.

Then again, as Essex took the field, out came the sun and while movement in the air and off the pitch presented some problems early on yesterday, the sounds that followed were the solid ones of bat meeting ball.

Mike Kasprowicz, the 22- year-old Queenslander, may well have asked the question 'Why me?' In which case, the answer would have been 'because you're here, lad.' At 6ft 4in, Kasprowicz certainly looks the part. He also arrived with something of a reputation.

After all, John Stephenson, the Essex opener, was missing from action having had his thumb broken by Kasprowicz in a practice match. Not that that appeared to worry Hampshire, least of all Paul Terry who was the first to a first-class century this season at Oxford last week and now scored another one.

Kasprowicz had been preferred as Essex's overseas signing to Mark Waugh, another Australian who was looking for a return to Chelmsford. Essex, though, were looking for a bowler following the retirement of Neil Foster and Derek Pringle.

By the end of the day he may have gone for only 55 but he had to wait until the final over for his only success, though in fairness he enjoyed no luck. The bat was beaten many times and also suffering was Mark Ilott, the left-armer whose only early success came when he won a leg before decision against Robin Smith.

However, there was no stopping Terry or the captain, Mark Nicholas. The pair put on 138 for the third wicket before Terry pulled a long hop from Nadeem Shahid to midwicket. His 130 included 17 fours.

Nicholas, meanwhile, went on to make 68 and then stepped on his wicket. It was the sort of luck Gooch would have wished for in the morning, though things did not look quite so bad with five Hampshire wickets going for 31 before the close.

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