Mullally provides batsmen with best example

If Hampshire's batsmen can match Alan Mullally's feat of endurance of yesterday then they should be assured of a victory today which would haul them off the bottom of the First Division.

If Hampshire's batsmen can match Alan Mullally's feat of endurance of yesterday then they should be assured of a victory today which would haul them off the bottom of the First Division.

But thanks to yet another example of tail-end resistance, the third in this match so far, Hampshire will have to draw deeply on their reserves, because Dominic Williamson's undefeated innings ensured that the home side need to make the highest score of the match - 279 runs - if they are to claim the honours. The loss of Derek Kenway and Will Kendall in the gloom of the early evening did little to reassure the watching Hampshire fans.

It would be a shame to waste all that Mullally effort. He was remarkable. He was almost mulish in his perseverance, bowling unchanged from the City End throughout the morning session, for a stunning return of 3 for 25 off 16 overs and a staggering demonstration of his stamina and fitness. He then bowled four more overs straight after lunch and was as awkward at the end of the stint as he had been when bowling unchanged for nine overs at the end of Tuesday.

He finished with four wickets, taking his tally in this and the previous match to 23 for 331 runs - an average around 14.4. It is the sort of form which should bring a gleam to the eyes of the England selectors, who deem him perfect for one-day cricket, but may now reconsider when they see that his total in Championship cricket has reached 42.

And Mullally even claimed a fifth wicket with a sharp piece of fielding which saw him throw down the stumps to run out Jon Dakin. Not surprisingly Mullally had plenty of help from another Hampshire hero.

Adrian Aymes clung on to two fine catches off Mullally's left-arm swing bowling, and the wicketkeeper, who was top scorer in Hampshire's first innings, added a further catch and the stumping of his opposite number, Neil Burns, to bring his haul of victims in this match to nine.

Only two other Hampshire wicketkeepers have claimed more - Aymes with 10 in 1989 and Bobby Parks with an identical tally eight years earlier, with Walter Livesey having picked up nine in 1914.

But Leicestershire's last wicket pair of Williamson and Scott Boswell managed to defy everything Hampshire could bowl at them. The 65 runs they added, which was the third highest stand of this match so far, was also the third example of the lower caste batsmen showing their betters as batters how to perform on a fine wicket. Even now that partnership could prove to be the match winner with Hampshire needing to score a further 225 runs if they are to record their second Championship victory of the season.

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