Cricket: Udal drums up support

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The Independent Online
Hampshire 355-9 dec

Worcestershire 206-5

LUNCHTIME here was enlivened by the Golden Kangaroos Marching Band from Sydney, Portsmouth's Down Under twin city. But by the time the drum majorettes and pom-pom-pumping cheerleaders strutted their stuff, a good-sized crowd at the United Services ground had become accustomed to wagging tails. Hampshire's tail had added 133 to an overnight score of 222 for 7, so ensuring the home side four batting points before they declared their rain-wrecked first innings.

Before the marching band, the baton-wielding was in the capable hands of Adrian Aymes and Shaun Udal, who put on 114 for the eighth wicket with an entertaining panache. Udal, having regained his rhythm with the ball, was a revelation with the bat. By the time he straight-drove Kenny Benjamin for the seventh of his eight boundaries, to raise his maiden first-class 50, his strokeplay was as expensive as his cheery smile.

After lunch, Graeme Hick moved uncertainly to an out-of- tune half-century, countering Malcolm Marshall's excellent opening spell of 14-7-25-2. He should have been caught at first slip, fencing at Marshall, when he was 49 but that miss proved less expensive than the life Worcestershire gave Aymes on 15.

Aymes went on to reach 50 in the last over before lunch, and his third consecutive catch at the top of the Worcestershire innings to remove Hick for 52 exposed a tail longer than that of Boomer the marching kangaroo. The follow-on was still 81 runs away, and in avoiding it Worcestershire owed much to Damian D'Oliveira, six short of his first championship century for a year, when he edged Marshall to first slip.