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Cricket: Morris sounds charge

Nottinghamshire 435 and 105-1; Hampshire 403-6 dec

THE sounds drifting in here from the nearby Carnival Hall were of an accordion, and very Irish it was, too. But the really sweet music reaching Hampshire ears was of Sean Morris putting bat to ball, his maiden first-class century arriving to the successful collective cause of averting the follow-on.

On the delightful May's Bounty, Morris led Nottinghamshire a merry dance. Having opened the innings yesterday, he added a further 91 to his overnight 83 and all but 50 of his runs were gathered in boundaries on this compact ground. It was the wicketkeeper, Adrian Aymes, who played a valuable supporting role with this first half-century of the season. With Surrey not involved in this round of the Championship, Nottinghamshire know they can go top of the table with a victory here. Separating Morris and Aymes, however, proved beyond them until the first over after lunch and even then the signs had not appeared promising, Morris slashing the first ball of the session to the boards.

Greg Mike, though, gained some revenge when he had Aymes picked up by Andy Pick in the gulley for 69. By then, the fourth-wicket partnership had risen to 160 in three hours of frustration for the visitors, the Basingstoke and North Hants club wicket, once a bowler's ally, proving too good for any alarms on a bright, breezy day.

Morris, promoted thanks to a trapped nerve in Tony Middleton's back, welcomed the chance to display his talents. A former Durham University captain, the 25-year-old is already being talked of as the natural leader for Hampshire when Mark Nicholas steps down.

Andy Afford, the slow left-armer, was the bowler and when Pick the paceman let fly with a bouncer, Morris dispatched him with a similar blow. The pair continued to take punishment and while Afford recorded three successive maidens, Morris square cut him for his 19th four to reach 100.

Nor was Aymes dormant, though a top-edge six to third man off Pick did appear to be taking liberties. His 50 included seven other boundaries and Hampshire were looking to press on following his departure.

Morris went, too, to a brilliant diving catch from Jimmy Adams at deep cover off Mike. A partnership of 64 between Raj Maru and Middleton then saw Hampshire past the 400 mark and into a declaration position with arrears of just 32, Tim Robinson's fifty helping to extend Nottinghamshire's lead to 137 by the close.