Hampshire perish on 'dead' track

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The Independent Online

Glamorgan 182-6Hampshire 69Glamorgan win by 113 runs

Hampshire were quite prepared to blame themselves for this, their fourth defeat and fifth batting collapse in a week. But they could equally lay the responsibility at the door of what might be termed "village idiots".

During the Rugby World Cup someone came up with a great idea to boost profits - create a World Cup village for supporters. They found a green site and erected a monster marquee and, sure enough, the punters and the cash rolled in.

Unfortunately the site chosen was not simply Sophia Gardens, the headquarters of Glamorgan County Cricket Club. The canvas behemoth was plonked slap-bang over the square. The result was that all the grass died and Glamorgan returned for the new season to a dead square. And it showed yesterday.

It may have made money for rugby but it made monkeys out of Hampshire. "We batted poorly," said their captain, Robin Smith, who had put Glamorgan in on a damp wicket that had as much bounce as a wet fish.

For 20 overs or so Hampshire were in charge of this Benson and Hedges Cup quarter-final as the home side lost three wickets and scored very few runs. And Smith added: "I did not think [the pitch] would deteriorate as much as it did. I think it is a shocking wicket and I sympathise with Glamorgan for having to play on it this season. I am well aware it is out of the groundsman's control, but to have to play cricket on that type of surface is outrageous."

Except that Adrian Dale and Keith Newell did manage to do just that. After Mike Powell and Steve James had presented Shane Warne with his two wickets, Dale and Newell set about sensibly prodding and pushing the ball into the gaps.

Hampshire faces grew longer, the odds on them losing their grip on the game grew shorter and Glamorgan's sixth-wicket pair gained in confidence. Newell was unlucky to miss out on a deserved half-century, he was run out, off the last ball of the innings, going for a second. Dale, though, did make it. He needed 81 balls and two of his team's modest total of 11 boundaries to rescue his side from the depths of despair as he and Newell piled up 99 runs in 18 overs. It would have been enough to guarantee him the Gold award, but he had not finished.

The Glamorgan captain, Matthew Maynard, slyly brought Dale into the attack when Hampshire were coming out of a state of shock, having been reduced to 16 for 5 in 12 overs. The damage had been done by Owen Parkin, who had taken 3 for 8 in 24 balls and the ever-dependable Steve Watkin, whose final figures were an astonishing 7-5-3-2.

Hampshire just could not play the Glamorgan bowlers or the pitch. The ball kept low and, thanks to the accuracy of the bowlers, almost every time a pad was rapped there was an appeal - to which five leg-before decisions from the first six wickets to fall bears witness.

Just three Hampshire players reached double figures; Shaun Udal, who was top-scorer with 15 - and he had been dropped when he edged behind on three - Alan Mullally and Giles White. No wonder they mustered their third-lowest score in the competition. It was pretty poor fare for the Hampshire faithful who had made the journey over the Severn Bridge.

Warne was not signed for his batting - although his bowling will not be much of a help if the batsmen do not give him something to bowl at - and, true to expectations, he departed cheaply. He had anyway been hampered after splitting the webbing between the little and ring fingers on his left hand when missing a chance to take Newell at slip before the batsman had got off the mark. It was that sort of day.