Lancashire 139-7 Hampshire: Smith's haul on debut a just reward for Chilton
It was the first day of cricket's county championship season and Manchester basked in spring sunshine. Not all the time, granted, but we must not be greedy. After a grimly damp morning that delayed the start by four hours and reinforced familiar preconceptions, the 51 overs possible were warmly received.
Lancashire are back in the First Division after winning last year's second-tier title and are optimistic about their prospects. Given that they do not have a full complement of bowlers, they will feel they started very well. Andrew Flintoff is missing and will play for them only once, in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy, before the first Test against Sri Lanka on 11 May. No surprise there. But the loss of Jimmy Anderson and Sajid Mahmood after their involvement in the winter tours was less easy to plan for. Mahmood is rested only for this match but Anderson will not reappear until the week before the Test.
There was an opportunity, therefore, for two of Lancashire's younger seamers, 21-year-old Oliver Newby and 20-year-old Tom Smith, both of whom seized the moment after a show of confidence from their captain, Mark Chilton.
Hampshire were asked to bat first on a wicket that looked as if it might be helpful to the bowlers but, in the event, behaved well. Newby, hard to miss at 6ft 5in, made his debut in 2003, played one more first-class game in 2004 and played for Nottinghamshire, on loan, last season. But this was his first championship match at Old Trafford and he marked it by having Dominic Thornely, the Australia A batsman who replaces Shane Watson as Hampshire's second overseas player, caught hooking.
Smith needs more introduction. The Liverpool-born England Under-19 earned his debut after impressing on Lancashire's pre-season tour. He could not have made a much better start, ending John Crawley's hopes of making his former county suffer in only his second over. Smith then accounted for another Hampshire newcomer, Michael Carberry, as well as Dimitri Mascarenhas, caught by Lancashire's new wicketkeeper, Luke Sutton.
It was not a good day for Hampshire. Led by Shaun Udal with Shane Warne still away, they looked set to take a grip two or three times only to lose wickets.
Crawley, Thornely and Carberry all started well enough to have scored heavily, although Carberry was dropped at slip off Gary Keedy on 10.
The same fate befell the Burnley-born opener Michael Brown, who was nurtured by Lancashire only to be released without making a senior appearance.
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