Cricket: Local players make record stand

Hampshire v Lancashire
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The Independent Online
WHAT a difference a day makes. Under a baking sun and on a wicket apparently offering nothing to the toiling bowlers, openers Jason Laney and Derek Kenway clocked up 212 for the first wicket in a leisurely 61 overs in Hampshire's second innings.

Even Muttiah Muralitharan was treated disrespectfully, with both batsmen confidently advancing towards him, or sweeping the Sri Lankan high towards the midwicket boundary.

Local statisticians confirmed that this was the first double century stand for the county by two locally born batsmen - Laney hails from Winchester, Kenway from Fareham. Nobody could ascertain whose record they had beaten, but those in the know did spot that all higher stands contained at least one suspect name.

Hampshire eventually awoke to the reality that this was in fact the third day of the match and that, after seven balls of the morning, they had followed on 311 behind Lancashire. Their first knock had lasted for less than two sessions, Andrew Flintoff had thumped out a career-best five wickets for 24 and Hampshire had nowhere to go.

In the context of the game the prospect of batting for two days to secure the double reward of draw points and huge frustration for Lancashire was the stuff of fantasy. But Laney and Kenway had pride to play for and to secure berths in the batting order. When he passed 75 Kenway recorded his career-best score, while his partner needed 113 to reach the same landmark.

But Laney was cocky once too often. On 95 he skipped towards Muralitharan, trying to reach his hundred somewhere high over long on, and omitted to hit the ball.

While the score remained stubbornly on the magnificent first-wicket 212, Kenway scampered up the strip looking for a non-existent single, and then Will Kendall - eyes barely adjusted to the glare - feebly propped the spinner to John Crawley at short leg. The honour of reaching the safe haven of tomorrow night suddenly receded once more .

However, by early evening this fixture had already shown the glorious see-saw that is county cricket, and that will remain true whether Hampshire capitulate or bat on into eternity.

Hampshire had conjured up a green wicket to neutralise Muralitharan, found no assistance for their all-seam attack while Lancashire gratefully piled up 492, and then subsided on a sad Thursday.

Yesterday, with the pitch turning a little more yellow, Laney and Kenway took Hampshire within sight of saving the innings defeat when a mid- afternoon finish had seen the most likely outcome. There could still be further twists in the plot.