County Championship round-up: Hampshire to ignore Pietersen again in T20

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The Independent Online

Somerset and Hampshire may meet again in the Twenty20 Cup final on Saturday but the announcement that Kevin Pietersen will be available to play for Hants need not worry the home side here nor Hampshire's semi-final opponents, Essex.

The England batsman regained a measure of form with his 80 in the Test at Edgbaston but Giles White, the Hampshire coach, said last night that Pietersen, who has already announced he will leave the county at the end of the season, is unlikely to be picked.

Hampshire declined to include Pietersen when England released him for a Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Kent last month, reasoning that they would rather advance the development of other players with international prospects, such as Michael Lumb, Michael Carberry, Jimmy Adams and 19-year-old James Vince.

"I suspect there will be no change in our policy," White said.

Carberry, whose form is being monitored closely while England opener Alastair Cook struggles for runs, helped Hampshire make a strong start after Somerset had put them in on a green wicket here, although they subsequently ran into difficulties in the face of high-quality bowling from the Indian spinner, Murali Kartik, before rain cut 18 overs from the day's schedule.

The left-handed opener says he does not expect to add to his one Test cap – in Bangladesh in March – despite increasing his tally of centuries to five for the season with one in each innings against Durham last week.

He will have made a favourable impression on England selector James Whitaker with 11 fours and a six in his 71 yesterday – at least until Kartik began to work his magic.

The left-armer began with six wicketless overs at the Botham End but struck in his first over after switching ends, having an appeal for leg before turned down before Carberry played back for turn but was presented instead with a straight delivery that he nicked to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.

Kartik was instrumental in Hampshire slipping from 180-2 to 186-5 later, taking a return catch off a leading edge as Lumb fell on 42 and having Vince in all kinds of trouble before another arm ball saw him off for four. Alfonso Thomas was then rewarded for some penetrative pace bowling when Neil McKenzie was given out lbw despite being well forward, leaving Sean Ervine and Dan Christian to rebuild.

Earlier, Trego had ended a rather lucky 34 from Adams, who had been dropped on nought and five, as Kieswetter held the first of his two catches.

Somerset, who have won four of their last six First Division matches to raise their hopes of landing the title for the first time in their history, will go top of the table with a win.

Lancashire's bid to mount a late run for the Championship ran into the familiar handicap of bad weather in Manchester. Durham, though, were grateful for the rain delays, having arrived at Old Trafford after finishing a 40-over match against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl at around 6pm on Sunday before a 350-mile drive north saw them arrive at their hotel at 1am.

Lancashire winning the toss did not help, meaning Durham were obliged to field first. Nevertheless, they made a good start, Mitch Claydon claiming the wicket of Tom Smith in the three overs possible before the first interruption, then dismissing Paul Horton to a catch at point when play resumed.

Mark Chilton made a half century but a double success for spinner Ian Blackwell kept Durham on top.