There was little doubt who was under scrutiny here yesterday. James Whitaker, an England selector, was one of many whose eyes were on the giant Lancashire all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.
But while he did not disappoint, nor did he star. That role went to Lancashire's new ball bowler Glen Chapple, who claimed a wicket with the third ball of the day and finished it with 3 for 33 from 16 miserly overs.
Flintoff though, was never completely out of the picture, and he certainly contributed enough to suggest that were England to pick him for the second Test against South Africa starting at Headingley next week – and there are many who would like to see him back in the Test team – he would not let them down, not on this showing.
The Flintoff faithful and Hampshire supporters had to wait for 45 minutes before Flintoff was thrown the ball, at the start of the 13th over and he began with a maiden.
Hampshire nicked four runs off his second over and opener Michael Brown added three more in Flintoff's third, but that brought the bowler's former Lancashire team-mate John Crawley on to strike.
He was squared up first time, but did not get bat on ball. Next delivery though had him squared up again and this time the ball found the edge and Lancashire captain Stuart Law took the catch at second slip.
While Flintoff did not add to his haul, by the time bad light and rain had brought a premature close to proceedings he had two slip catches to his name.
Lancashire had arrived here one off the top of the division, while Hampshire were one off the bottom and the difference was a gulf by the close.
Having started the day with a caught and bowled to dismiss Hampshire opener Michael Carberry, Chapple went on to account for Sean Ervine shortly after lunch, taken in the gully by Paul Horton.
His final contribution for the day came with the sixth delivery with the second new ball when the ever dangerous Hampshire wicketkeeper Nic Pothas pushed forward to a good length ball that left him a little and Flintoff held on to a comfortable waist high catch.
Oddly the umpires had to change the ball at this stage, so Lancashire had use of a third new ball one over later and that saw the departure of the Kolpak signing Rory Kleinveldt, snapped up by the alert Flintoff. As Lancashire closed in on the kill, so the weather closed in on play, leaving Flintoff and Co in a strong position.Reuse content