Chris Read must have lost count of the number of times his side had to drag themselves out of trouble on the way to winning the Championship in 2010 so a scoreboard showing 118 for 5 will not have particularly alarmed the Nottinghamshire captain as he strode in to bat yesterday afternoon.
His sangfroid was not misplaced, although as a 100-run deficit was transformed in familiar fashion into a first-innings lead of 75 it did help to have Samit Patel not only striking the ball well but enjoying unusually good luck.
Patel, his international career stalled by his failure to meet fitness targets, is supposedly in much better shape than this time last year, although his county have curiously avoided being specific about how much weight he may have lost. What he has not lost his ability to despatch a cricket ball to the boundary, as he did 19 times yesterday in the 11th first-class hundred of his career.
It would be a surprise, though, if he has had 11 innings sustained by four dropped catches, the first off his first ball when Dominic Cork, who had a wretched day at first slip, spilled him low down off David Griffiths, who might have finished with eight-for and deserved it. Another, by Neil McKenzie at second slip – again off Griffiths – came before he was in double figures.
Patel made the most of his good fortune. He is off takeaways (again) in a bid to attract selectorial eyes but he and Read, who chipped in with 54, helped themselves to a sixth-wicket stand of 148 that transformed Nottinghamshire's day, although more time was lost to poor light.
Otherwise, it would have belonged to Griffiths, who bowled so well in the morning, when conditions were as ripe for movement in the air and off the pitch as they has been 24 hours earlier, that he was almost unplayable.
Replacing Cork at first change, Griffiths uprooted Paul Franks's middle stump with his first ball and then beat Alex Hales outside off stump with four of the next five. He did much the same to Mark Wagh in his next over, then brought one back so sharply it took out leg stump. His first 25 deliveries cost one run – indeed six of his first 11 overs were maidens.
Adam Voges had no more of an answer to him and while it must have frustrated Griffiths to see Friedel de Wet and Sean Ervine account for Hales, Voges and Ali Brown, his reward came later as Patel's luck at last ran out and Michael Bates, substituting behind the stumps for the injured Nic Pothas, held two catches to give him 5 for 72.
Hampshire spilled seven catches, three by Cork and four by McKenzie – and none by Adeel Shafique, the 17-year-old Notts academy wicketkeeper who stood in until Bates arrived after lunch, and did a most competent job.