Andrew Flintoff spurned the chance to score some timely runs in his final outing for Lancashire before Monday's announcement of the England squad for the first Ashes Test. Promoted to bat at No 3 yesterday, he was caught at third slip by Hampshire's Chris Benham off Dimitri Mascarenhas for 12 off 15 balls. He had clobbered the England one-day all-rounder for a towering straight six into the pavilion but perished the next ball.
The decisive performance of the second day came from Chris Tremlett, who claimed four wickets on his return from an abdominal strain to give Hampshire the early advantage here.
The 27-year-old three-time England Test bowler finished with season's best figures of 4 for 49 from 13 overs to help bowl the hosts out for 208 inside 61 overs after they had elected to bat first on a bowler-friendly track.
Tremlett was helped out by former Lancashire bowler Dominic Cork who finished with 3 for 43 from 16 while captain Mascarenhas nipped in with two wickets. Tremlett, playing his first game for six weeks, was Lancashire's chief tormentor. He clinched the prized scalp of VVS Laxman caught behind off a top-edged pull on the way to reducing Lancashire to 127 for seven. Paul Horton top-scored for the hosts with 37 off 65 balls and Sajid Mahmood hit a late run-a-ball 30 to give the Red Rose a valuable batting bonus point. Hampshire reached 124 for four in reply and Flintoff bowled seven overs for 16 runs. The visitors trailed by 84 runs at the close.
Tremlett removed Laxman, François du Plessis, Steven Croft and Kyle Hogg either side of lunch as he made good use of helpful conditions.
But having been released from Old Trafford at the end of last year all the talk was of Cork's return to the north west. The former Derbyshire and England man trapped Mal Loye (18), Luke Sutton (25) and Glen Chapple (27) lbw.
Lancashire have claimed just seven batting points from their five matches and it looked odds on that they would not claim an eighth. But Mahmood whacked James Tomlinson for four boundaries in seven balls to take his side past 200. Home captain Chapple then ensured that his side made the perfect start with the ball by forcing Jimmy Adams to edge behind to Sutton in the fifth over.
Hogg then trapped Michael Lumb lbw in the 14th over before left-arm spinner Gary Keedy whipped out two wickets in his first two overs.
He had Michael Carberry caught at short leg by Croft with just his second ball for 25 and Benham was caught behind by Sutton off a top-edged sweep for one. Hampshire were wobbling at 71 for four in the 22nd over.
Nic Pothas (35) and James Vince (34) then shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 53 to take their side through to the close.
19 days to go:
As if the Ashes needed added gravitas, national anthems are to be played before Tests. Hearing "God Save The Queen" should ensure there's fire in the bellies of republican Aussies.