Hampshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .374-5 dec
THERE may have been a general groan from the locals the previous evening when David Gower holed out before reaching double figures, but the groaning at the County Ground yesterday came with an Australian accent, thanks to Robin Smith. Tim May got his man in the end, though Smith was only nine away from a double-century.
This was splendid news for Hampshire but how England would have preferred it had he come up with an innings of this stature at Old Trafford or Lord's. The batsman himself does not expect it to change his fate. 'I think it will be too late - I expect that they have their side already in mind,' he said. If Smith fails to be selected for the third Test, starting at Trent Bridge on Thursday, one would think that a fair few Australians will not be complaining.
On a flat wicket and lightning fast outfield the tourists spent the best part of three and a half hours chasing leather. Not much fun for them, of course, under a baking sun but tremendous entertainment for a big Sunday crowd. Smith's 191 matched exactly the balls he faced, and by the time he signed off, 36 of these had been sent to or over the boundary.
Smith and Tony Middleton put on 233 in 44 overs before Middleton was seen off by Merv Hughes. The comparison in scoring was staggering, Middleton's 53 made off 148 deliveries and Smith's 150 from 152.
Smith in this mood is murderous, but in the first Test he had made 4 and 18 and on each occasion fallen to the leg-spinner Shane Warne. Then, in the second Test, May's off-spin did for him twice for 22 and 5. Warne was rested here, but May went for a six and two fours in one over. Smith added 100 to his score in the first session, and the last century made before lunch against the Australians over here had been Bob Barber's for Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1964.
Those present at this match were happy to make do with the sight of Allan Border, the Australian captain, being despatched for successive sixes by Smith. On each occasion, the ball sailed out of the ground at the City end.
Mark Nicholas declared 19 behind and there were some more cheers to be heard from Hampshire folk when Ian Healy, Steve Waugh and Brendon Julian were removed for less than 100. It had been an expensive day for the tourists, not least the half-century of extras they conceded.
Alan Igglesden, the Kent fast bowler, has been ruled out of selection for the third Test with a back injury. His county colleague, Martin McCague, is also doubtful because of a wrenched shoulder. The team is due to be announced at 9am today.