Smith reminds England with 179

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Robin Smith hit 179 for Hampshire against Northamptonshire on the first day of the Britannic Assurance Championship match at Basingstoke yesterday.

Smith, ignored by England for the first two Tests this summer, batted for five hours for the 50th first-class century of his career. He hit sixes off Tony Penberthy and Andy Roberts and 27 fours as Hampshire made the most of winning the toss.

At the close they were 329 for 6 from 107 overs, with Smith out just before the close, turning Paul Taylor into the base of his stumps after facing 264 balls.

Hampshire recovered from the early loss of their captain John Stephenson and Kevan James thanks to a stand of 144 in 45 overs for the third wicket between Smith and the inexperienced Jason Laney.

Laney went on to make a Championship-best 81 before he became the first of two victims in a marathon spell of bowling by the veteran spinner John Emburey.

Emburey also dismissed Paul Terry, making his first Championship appearance of the season after injury, to finish with 2 for 77 from 35 accurate and testing overs.

Peter Bowler hit a five-hour century to spare Somerset's blushes after they won the toss on the opening day of their match with Worcestershire at Bath, but the hosts still collapsed from 203 for 2 to 263 all out before Worcestershire closed on 8 for 0.

Richard Illingworth did most of the damage, taking 3 for 6 in the space of 14 balls to remove Marcus Trescothick, Andy Hayhurst and Shane Lee on his way to figures of 5 for 40 off 29 overs.

Bowler hit 18 fours in his 112, facing 277 balls and batting for five hours 41 minutes. He got bogged down after tea, scoring only 10 in 16 overs as Somerset's innings lost momentum.

Mark Lathwell had played well for his 37 in an opening stand of 126, but after Trescothick's departure for 27, Somerset folded alarmingly.