Hampshire in debt to Aymes

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The Independent Online

It would not have beenunreasonable to expect the Leicestershire attack, shorn as it was of four front-line bowlers, to have been carted all over the Northlands Road Ground by Hampshire yesterday.

It would not have beenunreasonable to expect the Leicestershire attack, shorn as it was of four front-line bowlers, to have been carted all over the Northlands Road Ground by Hampshire yesterday.

But the stand-ins, who had amassed a total of just 30 Championship wickets among them this season, proved they were no Rag, Tag and Bobtail outfit as they earned Leicestershire a first-innings lead and maximum bowling points, their batsmen extending the lead in a trouble-free glide to the close.

Only Hampshire's wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes, nursing a sore thumb after being rapped early in his innings, produced anything like the necessary fight for runs and batting points.

Thanks to Aymes and his gutsy half-century -- the third time he has passed fifty this season -- Hampshire did pick up one point, but after a dozen First Division games their present total of 14 goes some way to explaining why they are at the bottom of the table.

If the Hampshire batsmen had been expecting to knock off runs in untroubled fashion, they were quickly disabused of such a wild notion. Indeed the Leicestershire captain, Vince Wells, and his motley crew found that the batsmen resembled ducks in a fairground shooting gallery.

Hampshire had wrapped up the Leicestershire innings off the ninth ball of the day when Carl Crowe became Aymes' fifth victim and things looked set fair for the home side to pile on some runs at last. But the moment Giles White chopped on in Jon Dakin's second over a feeling of gloom pervaded their innings.

Dakin then accounted for Derek Kenway a couple of overs later, and although Will Kendall tried to dig in with his captain, Robin Smith, the pair quickly hit bedrock. Kendall had been hit on the shoulder by a sharp one from Dakin which seemed to drive him into his shell; half a dozen overs later Scott Boswell found Kendall's inside edge and their prospects worsened.

Boswell bowled awkwardly, exploiting the heavy conditions, but Jason Laney looked to have the beating of him, coming in and blazing away for 15 balls, but he then drove imprudently and Wells took a good catch -- the first of three for him -- and the tremor threatened to turn into an earthquake.

When Smith went in the next over, to the same fielder in the same position, first slip, measurements on the Richter Scale seemed to be rising. There were still more alarms for Hampshire in the run-up to lunch when Aymes was hit on the thumb by Boswell. Bravely, he stuck it out.

Aymes is a doughty batsman, who is happy to take root. His three-hour 20-minute stay, interspersed with some exquisite drives was an object lesson to his team-mates, as was the way he nursed Alex Morris in a 54-run ninth-wicket stand.

A century by Paul Pollard helped Worcestershire to launch a spirited fightback against Essex in their Second Division game at Kidderminster yesterday. Pollard hit an unbeaten 123 to lift his side to 302 all out off 90 overs. By the close Essex were 35 for 1 after 10 overs.

In a possible relegationdecider at Chester-le-Street rain prevented any play until 4pm. Durham's Neil Killeen had the India Test player Rahul Dravid leg before for seven and the opener David Fulton caught at second slip for 27 as Kent struggled to 71 for 3 off 32 overs at the close.

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