Cricket: Udal turns Hampshire's fortunes

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Hampshire 228 and 336

Worcestershire 193 and 315

Hampshire win by 56 runs

SHAUN UDAL restated his Test case yesterday. On a conspiring pitch, the off-spinner returned 6 for 85, with match figures of 9 for 116, making his dash from Lord's last Thursday, after being deemed surplus to England's requirements, highly worthwhile.

There was a time last summer when Mark Nicholas, Hampshire's captain, believed that the less publicity Udal received the better he bowled. Time has passed, because with 47 first-class wickets at 26 runs each, the flash- bulb glare is upon him, if not upon his county.

Their win was still a major achievement. Two successive victories after four defeats and four draws, this time without Winston Benjamin in the second innings, says much for their durability. Cardigan Connor played an admirable supporting role to Udal and Martin Jean-Jacques took the important wicket of David Leatherdale, the last remaining specialist batsman, caught at first slip.

Benjamin had sustained a shoulder injury while capturing six first-innings wickets for 46 and pointing Hampshire to a lead of 35, but to his credit he fielded throughout without the incentive of bowling.

Hampshire still managed to dismiss the opposition for considerably less than the target of 372 with some ease, despite an innings of 95 from Tim Curtis, including 13 fours off 231 balls.

But without Robin Smith, the game's only century- maker, who advanced to 162, Hampshire would have lost, hands down.

As for Worcestershire, they fought the good fight and even had a battle with their own pitch. Curtis was caught at second slip, pushing, but Richard Illingworth, the nightwatchman, hung around, as in the job description.

Leatherdale, who held the Championship-winning catch when Worcestershire last lifted the title five years ago, showed signs of leading a victory charge, and Phil Newport shared a brisk eighth-wicket stand of 41 with Neal Radford once Curtis departed.

But from 175 for 3 overnight, Worcestershire failed to rise from the reaches of the table's bottom eight. They used eight bowlers, some not required, but sorely needed another batsman. Stuart Lampitt and Phil Weston jointly top-scored in the first innings with 32, not the basis from which victories are are fashioned in four-day games.

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