Cricket: Richardson is the spur

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The Independent Online
Hampshire. . . . . .307-8 dec and 18-0

Yorkshire. . . . . .248

WHAT a difference a day makes. The loss of Thursday, the first day, has turned this match into that threatened species of yesteryear, the three-day game. One consequence was that for a time yesterday a good sized crowd was entertained by batsmen going for their shots instead of building their innings brick by brick. While the sun shone before lunch, watching cricket was an exhilarating pastime.

A good pitch contributed as well. There was sufficient pace and bounce in it to encourage the bowlers, while the batsmen could play strokes confident that the ball was coming on to the bat.

Hampshire made the running first thing, adding 60 in an hour to their overnight 247 for six despite losing Shaun Udal in the opening over. Adrian Aymes again batted well, driving handsomely square of the wicket, while Cardigan Connor hit and missed with equal facility. With Connor's less than elegant charge came a well-merited third wicket for Yorkshire's new slow left-armer, Richard Stemp.

Yorkshire's opening pair, Martyn Moxon and Ashley Metcalfe, were equally entertaining before lunch, putting on 58 in 18 overs. But in the afternoon, when the sun went in, the lively Hampshire bowlers pinned the visitors back, prompted initially by two sharp slip-catches by substitute Rajesh Maru. Maru was on for the injured Mark Nicholas, and in the Hampshire captain's absence Malcolm Marshall directed operations.

Lively enough in his opening spell of four overs, Marshall stormed back after lunch to account for Yorkshire's vaunted overseas signing, Richie Richardson, with clinical precision. Pace and lift drew from the West Indian captain an involuntary jab that fairly flew in and out of Maru's hands, only to rebound off his thigh into his gratefully retrieving grasp.

Two early fours past slip by Richardson may not have whetted the crowd's appetite, but they certainly lit Marshall's fire. The over after Richardson's dismissal he shattered David Byas's stumps.

While Richard Blakey's 43 was in keeping with the pre-prandial pace, Yorkshire had every reason to appreciate Moxon's 63-over stay for 75. Come the run chase tomorrow, however, they will be looking to the captain to score his runs a little less stodgily.