Taylor rips through top order to boost Hampshire
Hampshire 197 & 275 Gloucs 221 & 149-5
It was not all gloom for Hampshire yesterday. For a start they mustered some resistance and presented Gloucestershire with a far more realistic target than had looked likely at the close of the previous day. And then Billy Taylor and Shane Warne whipped out Gloucestershire's top five to set up a thrilling finish today, with 103 runs still needed for victory.
But if Hampshire are to conjure up a victory then they will have to work hard, especially after the Gloucestershire openers Craig Spearman and Philip Weston replied to the home side's resistance by compiling the first century stand of the match, a commendable effort given that the pitch was unhelpful.
The New Zealander Spearman reached his half century first and looked determined to make up for his first-innings failure, as did Weston. There had been no risks taken, no chances given, they just built steadily, and things were beginning to look awkward for Hampshire when Taylor struck. As in the first innings he produced a three-wicket spell in 23 balls which accounted for both openers in successive overs, followed by Kadeer Ali.
Warne did his bit as well but the good news did not stop there. Earlier in the day, Hampshire had been given proof that at least one fan at any rate thinks they will win something as he is prepared to back his dreams with his money.
A punter had laid a £4,000 each-way bet with Totesport, to finish in the money in the National League First Division. If Hampshire win the competition, then the supporter stands to win more than £46,000 for his £8,000 outlay in the Portsmouth branch of the bookmakers, and second or third place would still not see him out of pocket. After accepting the stake Totesport chopped the odds from 8-1 to 6-1, and there could be takers for the County Championship after yesterday, with the same firm offering odds of 12-1 for Hampshire.
Warne, Hampshire's captain, worked extremely hard all day as much with the bat as with the ball. It was a 64-ball 62, from the leg-spinner which initially raised Hampshire hopes. Warne found perfect partners in Sean Ervine, with whom he added 51 for the seventh wicket, and then Chris Tremlett, who went on to make the second half-century of his first-class career, which he turned into a career-best 64.
This eighth-wicket stand was even more productive for Hampshire, with 70 runs being added to their total, and when Tremlett's stay was terminated shortly after lunch, Richard Logan took up the cudgels with a belligerent little knock.
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