Crawley hits triple century to torment champions

Hampshire 714-5 Notts 213 & 1-0
Match abandoned at 73 mins

Except that Crawley had not finished with them. Because after Shane Warne declared the innings closed with the former Lancashire player just six runs away from entering the Hampshire history books as the county's highest individual scorer (Dick Moore 316 against Warwickshire in 1937), Crawley then snapped up two catches to help put the skids under the champions' reply.

And in the end it was more of an uncontrolled slide, with Dimitri Mascarenhas taking a summer's best 5 for 55, England off-spinner Shaun Udal 4 for 39 and the newly crowned champions suffering the ignominy of following on 501 runs behind a Hampshire total that was the largest innings in the county's history, comfortably eclipsing the 1899 mark of 672 for 7 declared against Somerset.

"The wickets here are getting better and better," Warne had stated on the evening of the first day when Hampshire had already tucked maximum batting points in the bag. "In the last month or so we have scored more than 400 against Kent and 570-odd against Warwickshire." The reason for the poor Nottinghamshire reply was simply that they lacked a batsman of Crawley's calibre. He might have missed out on a personal record but Crawley still equalled the highest score in the championship - Graeme Smith's 311 for Somerset - this summer, and it still goes down as his second triple hundred - the first was last season, again an unbeaten one, but 10 runs fewer against the same opponents but up on their turf at Trent Bridge.

And as an indication of how good Crawley is, this was his eighth innings greater than 200 and he has taken seven of those past the 250-mark. In all Crawley was at the crease for eight and three-quarter hours, during which time he faced 421 balls.

While he cut, pulled and drove 35 boundaries at regular intervals throughout his innings, it was not until Crawley had passed 200 that he finally let himself open up and proceeded to smack four sixes.

He received healthy support, first from overnight partner Nic Pothas, who fell in the first hour of the day having helped put on 108 for the fifth wicket before losing his middle stump to Andrew Harris when looking to drive to his half-century.

But there was no let-up in the rain of runs. Mascarenhas underlined his qualities as an all-rounder by weighing in with his second hundred in four innings. That arrived some half a dozen overs after lunch, a period when each batsman reached his own landmark and Hampshire had the added satisfaction of passing the First Division's previous highest total of the summer, 692 for 7 set by Nottinghamshire against Surrey.

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