There seemed little evidence of delinquent behaviour on the part of a pitch described by England's Andy Caddick as slow. There was rather more evidence of some highly disciplined and aggressive seam bowling from Somerset, led by Caddick himself, and some pretty indifferent batting, also by Somerset, who threw away their hard-won initiative in the evening session.
It was a one batting point sort of day and that, eventually, is what Hampshire achieved. One look at the dark, dreary clouds was probably enough to persuade Peter Bowler to put Hampshire in, and they made the most inauspicious start imaginable.
The Australian Matthew Hayden, the leading batsman in the Championship with three centuries in his last four innings, was out first ball, lbw to the raw pace of Andre van Troost at the beginning of the day's second over.
Jason Laney then produced what turned out to be the best batting of the day, making 40 while Van Troost's radar was on the blink, but Caddick then came on second change and bowled an impeccable spell either side of lunch.
Caddick picked up two wickets and caused Robin Smith such uncertainty that the erstwhile England batsman was only too happy to escape to the other end. But he found no respite there and was bowled, off his arm, by Graham Rose for 17. On this ground last year, Smith had made 179.
All the Somerset bowlers chipped in, reducing Hampshire to 121 for 7 and only two late stands, each worth 41, gave the Hampshire bowlers some encouragement for their task after tea.
They did not have to wait long for their first wicket, though, Bowler getting his legs in a tangle as Simon Renshaw steamed in. Then Kevan James dismissed Mark Lathwell with his very first ball.
Richard Harden did not last long, also lbw to Renshaw, but the real sting was left to James, who dismissed Keith Parsons and Rob Turner in successive deliveries, the latter courtesy of a nifty stumping by Adrian Aymes.
There was just time for Hampshire's captain, John Stephenson, to dismiss Rose, while all the time Piran Holloway looked on from the other end. He remained unbeaten on 43, and Somerset will be hoping for big things from him today.Reuse content