Taylor's true grit puts Hampshire in charge

Hampshire 275 & 304 v Middlesex 279
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, has invested a not-inconsiderable chunk of his personal fortune attempting to turn the south coast county into one of the most exciting in England. Building a ground as pleasant as this and signing players of the quality of Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen, does not come cheap.

Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, has invested a not-inconsiderable chunk of his personal fortune attempting to turn the south coast county into one of the most exciting in England. Building a ground as pleasant as this and signing players of the quality of Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen, does not come cheap.

Yet it was the performance of the club's less glamorous players that helped Hampshire move into a match-winning position against Middlesex on the third day of this First Division match yesterday.

On a cold, wet and windy day on the outskirts of Southampton, John Crawley, Simon Katich, Nic Pothas, Sean Ervine, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Pietersen all made important contributions, but it was the brave batting of the nightwatchman, Billy Taylor, which set the tone for the day. The fast bowler began his defiant innings of nine on Saturday evening and continued to frustrate Middlesex's bowlers for the entire morning.

The left-hander's batting was not pretty, but stodge was required and Taylor supplied it by the bucketful. The 28-year-old played and missed at a high proportion of the 116 balls he faced and was hit about the body on more than half a dozen occasions. But everything he did was followed by loud encouragement from his captain, Warne, on the dressing-room balcony.

All that counted was that he remained at the crease and continued taking the best overs out of Middlesex's depleted attack. With Chad Keegan injured the admirable Alan Richardson and Scott Styris were asked to bowl for the majority of the morning.

Chris Whelan, on his 19th birthday, ended Taylor's three-hour vigil when he shaved the outside edge of his bat with the last ball before lunch. Pietersen replaced Taylor and crashed his first ball through extra cover for four. The powerful right-hander struck three further boundaries in his 28 before a forward lunge found his inside edge and lobbed to short-leg.

With Richardson and Styris tiring batting became less hazardous. The odd ball misbehaved but Hampshire's middle and lower order, led by Pothas, with 65, were able to pick off Paul Weekes, Ben Hutton and Whelan. Ed Joyce's departure from the field brought on John Emburey, the Middlesex coach. How they wished the 52-year-old could have bowled a few overs.

Comments