It's easy to come into a winning team, as Kyle Hogg would no doubt tell you. The Lancashire seamer, who had missed the entirety of the Championship season so far with injury, returned the best figures of his career on his comeback yesterday – 7 for 28 – with a spell of superb seam bowling that left Hampshire all out for 133 in their first innings at the Rose Bowl.
Hogg's efforts ensured that Lancashire, who have won four out of five matches this season, took firm control of a contest that had looked in the balance after they had been bowled out for 328 on the first day. Lancashire and their captain Glen Chapple are loath to discuss the prospect of a first outright title since before the war, but their form thus far has made them serious contenders, at the very least.
Hogg, 27, struggled to live up to the great expectations that accompanied his emergence 10 years ago – he is the grandson of the West Indian off-spinner Sonny Ramadhin – but he and Lancashire surely have better times ahead if they can continue in their current vein. By the close, Hampshire were 163 for 5 in their second innings, some 32 behind.
While Hogg's dramatic return will have surprised some, no one is shocked when Marcus Trescothick scores runs, particularly when they come at Taunton. Trescothick, once of England and still of England quality, hit 189 to put his side in charge against Yorkshire before a late comeback led by Ryan Sidebottom ensured the hosts would lead by 31 with four first-innings wickets left going into the third day.
Zaheer Khan, by some distance India's most effective seamer, may have had Sidebottom in mind when he suggested yesterday that his countrymen should play more county cricket. Zaheer played for Worcestershire in 2006 but the BCCI has not always been keen to allow Indians to play in England.
"That stint helped me understand the game and [how to] bowl on different kinds of wickets," Zaheer told GQIndia.com. "When you play a county season you have to do everything yourself and still be prepared. That brings a great sense of professionalism."
Sky Sports sixes league
Peter Trego still leads the way in the Sky Sports Sixes League, but there are a few young batsmen hot on his heels. Durham's Ben Stokes smashed seven sixes in his unbeaten 150 against Warwickshire to move into second place overall. Hampshire's Benny Howell hit five of his own in his century against Surrey to move alongside team-mate Liam Dawson.
Peter Trego Som/9/119
Ben Stokes Dur/7/249
Varun Chopra War/7/326
Peter Trego Som/10/159
Varun Chopra War/9/391
Ben Stokes Dur/8/289