Hayden hits back hard for Australians

Australia 97 & 176-1 Hampshire 354
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The Independent Online

Reality set in with a jolt yesterday when Hampshire were dumped rather rudely out of wonderland where they had been wandering in something of a daze following their first day heroics.

In the harsh light of a summer's day there was to be no repeat of Saturday when the Australians could not muster a hundred runs between them, and then found the Hampshire batsmen impervious to their every wile.

These tourists do not make the same mistakes second time around as Matthew Hayden proved with a flawless half century. He and his opening partner Justin Langer had knocked off 72 of the considerable first innings advantage of 257 runs, giving the impression that no one would ever get them out again, when Hampshire were tossed a small slice of luck.

Langer is a bare 5ft 9in, but just after tea the Western Australian left-hander slashed at a steepling bouncer from Neil Johnson and Derek Kenway at first slip leaped acrobatically to his right, simultaneously palming the ball even higher, before taking it securely.

But Hayden, who scored 1,446 runs for Hampshire as their overseas player in 1997, was not going to miss out. He has one particularly lethal shot in his repertoire, a savage whip through or over mid-wicket, which he used to devastating effect. He also hit a beautiful lofted straight six off Shaun Udal, before flaying the next ball to the mid-wicket boundary.

He and Simon Katich were in control and they ate into the first innings deficit at their leisure, barely breaking sweat. Quite a contrast to the efforts of Robin Smith in the morning, as he reinforced Hampshire's early domination.

There was certainly life in the old Judge, as the Hampshire captain is known. He ploughed on to his third century of the summer, the 59th of his first class career and his fourth against the Australians (two for Hampshire, two for England).

It was laced with trademark cuts and ferocious drives and he and Johnson hammered away at the tourists' attack for the best part of an hour to bring their partnership up to 182 before being parted. Johnson went first for 88, Smith carried on, but having reached three figures he then dawdled.

It was almost as if he wanted to savour getting to his hundred, perhaps because he knew it was the first one scored against the Australians on this tour. Having gone from 99 to 107 he then lingered for more than 18 overs, adding just six runs.

In that period he was on the receiving end of a snorter from Jason Gillespie, that reared up off a length and threatened to decapitate him. He took evasive action with that one, but was not so lucky when Gillespie gave way to Ashley Noffke.

Noffke let one go in his first over and it appeared to catch Smith on the side of his helmet, and two overs later, not having scored another run, Smith fell lbw to the Queenslander.

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