Richardson startles Hampshire with career-best innings

Warwickshire 472 Hampshire 89-3
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The Independent Online

Not since Ken Higgs and Ray Illingworth detained Northamptonshire a little longer than anticipated at Leicester in 1977 has a last-wicket stand caused quite the frustration that Hampshire suffered on a day that Warwickshire's Alan Richardson will never tire of discussing.

The 27-year-old seam bowler, with a career aggregate of 82 in 31 first-class innings before this match, somehow managed to add 91 in one go here yesterday, providing extraordinary support to double-centurion Nick Knight.

With Knight looking on in some incredulity at the other end while turning his overnight 151 into a career-best unbeaten 255, spanning more than 10 hours with 31 fours and three sixes, Richardson simply refused to get out, at least not until he had been at the crease for four hours and 18 minutes and Hampshire were on to their eighth bowler, by which time two Warwickshire records had been smashed. He was enjoying himself so much he was upset not to make a century.

Given that he had never before been beyond 17 in a first-class match, he may never have as good a chance again.

The partnership, which took Warwickshire from 258 for 9 late on Wednesday to an astonishing 472, surpassed the county's previous 10th-wicket best, the 141 compiled by Ashley Giles and Tim Munton at Worcester in 1996, by 73 runs. Richardson claimed the record for a Warwickshire No 11, set by Danny Mayer's 74 against Surrey at The Oval in 1927, while the partnership of 214 with Knight has been bettered by only seven last-wicket pairs anywhere in the world in first-class cricket.

It is the fifth biggest 10th-wicket partnership in the County Championship, the largest since Higgs (98) and Illingworth (119 not out) took Leicestershire from 45 for 9 to 273 all out at Grace Road in 1977.

Richardson went past his previous best score in the 11th over of the day and would not have progressed much beyond had Neil Johnson held a sharp chance at slip when Knight was 175. But the luck was going for the home side. Richardson, having sliced Alan Mullally over the slips to reach 53 with the seventh of his 10 boundaries, was dropped twice on 68, the second a dolly to Hampshire's James Hamblin.

"I was disappointed to get out having got so close," Richardson said, after being stumped attempting to sweep Giles White, who he had just pulled for his first-ever six. "I've never done better than 60-odd a couple of times even in club cricket." Hampshire, three down for 89 at the close after Giles had found some useful turn, trail by 383.