Hampshire v Gloucestershire
LV=County Championship -
Venue: Ageas Bowl
Gloucestershire ran out of time in their bid to inflict a first LV= County Championship Division Two defeat of the season on Hampshire, James Vince and Sean Ervine each hitting half-centuries as the hosts survived a tense evening session at Southampton.
When Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman shook hands on the draw there were only eight overs remaining, Hampshire were just six runs ahead and they had only four second-innings wickets left.
Two of those overs would have been lost in changing over the innings had Hampshire capitulated so that the visitors were left to rue a bland, lifeless wicket and rain over the first two days which proved so costly.
At the start of play, Gloucestershire were 446 for five – a lead of 149, with Will Gidman 109 not out and Benny Howell unbeaten with 17 – and needing to build on their substantial lead quickly with a declaration in the offing.
Will Gidman and Howell added a further 17 for the sixth wicket before Gidman was caught at the wicket off James Tomlinson for 119 – a valuable innings compiled over 186 balls and including 14 fours.
Adam Rouse, the former Hampshire wicketkeeper on a month’s trial with Gloucestershire, followed at 490, cutting to third man, and another ex-Hampshire player, Howell, finally departed at 504 after lifting spinner Danny Briggs to Jimmy Adams at mid-wicket.
At this stage – 504 for eight and a lead of 207 – Alex Gidman called a halt, leaving his bowlers 80 overs to remove Hampshire a second time, which was always going to be a big ask.
Hampshire made an appalling start, even though there was nothing to fear from the wicket, losing Michael Carberry at 17 and Will Smith at 22 – both to catches at the wicket by Zimbabwe-born Rouse, who was axed by Hampshire at the end of last season and has been searching for a county ever since.
Adams and Vince steadied the Hampshire innings with a stand of 68 for the third wicket, but Gloucestershire’s sagging hopes were suddenly revived when left-arm spinner Tom Smith had Adams caught at short leg for 31 and Joe Gatting followed at 109 to another Rouse catch.
Hampshire were in trouble again, it appeared, but the in-form Vince held them together with another high-quality innings, racing to 63 with five fours before edging Smith to Rouse standing up.
Half the side gone for 138, Hampshire were still 69 runs from safety, but it was then that Ervine and Adam Wheater came together in a stand of 74 in 21 overs, tentatively running down time and the deficit.
There was ironic cheering from the small last-day crowd as Hampshire finally scrambled in front, but almost immediately Gloucestershire morale lifted once more when Howell bowled Wheater for 29. Ervine, meanwhile, had reached his half-century and was in no mood to surrender.
Ervine was still at the crease, unbeaten with 57, when Gloucestershire were forced to concede their task had become hopeless.
Smith took two for 62 from 24 overs but got little response from the wicket, and there was one each for Liam Norwell, David Payne, Howell and the much under-rated all-rounder Will Gidman.
Gloucestershire finished with 12 points, which failed to reflect their ascendency over the four days, while the eight points Hampshire salvaged will do little for their promotion prospects – especially in the light of rivals Surrey’s big win over Glamorgan the previous day.
Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams was always confident his side would hold out.
“We had to battle to save it, but I always felt that if we batted to our potential we could do so,” he said.
“We were in a good position after day one but then we had a mad hour and lost seven wickets for 38. It was hard work after that, with Gloucestershire getting a substantial total but we managed to salvage it in the end.
“Overall the weather ruined it, taking virtually a whole day out of the game.”
Will Gidman’s first century of the season underlined his growing importance to the Gloucestershire cause as he helped his side to a 149-run lead after day three of the LV= County Championship Division Two match against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Gidman, coming in at number six, was 109 not out at the close having featured in what could prove to be a match-winning stand of 161 with Ian Cockbain for the fifth wicket.
Only once did Gidman look in any trouble and that was when he scrambled desperately to make his ground going for the single which brought him only the third hundred of a late-blossoming career.
Gidman hit the ball to Michael Carberry, one of the best fielders in the game, and set off and had Carberry’s throw from mid-off hit the stumps, which it so nearly did, he would surely have been out. As it was he got a bonus run from an overthrow.
Gidman, now 29, can now add more than 500 County Championship runs to the 35 wickets he has taken with his medium pace making him a vital component of the young side captained by his brother Alex.
There was nothing in the wicket to help the Hampshire bowlers and the home side’s captain, Jimmy Adams used eight of them in an attempt to break the back of the Gloucestershire batting but between them they managed only four wickets of a one-sided day.
Starting from their overnight 94 for one in reply to Hampshire’s first innings total of 297, Will Tavare and Alex Gidman proceeded without alarms to 163 before Hampshire at last broke through, left-arm spinner Danny Briggs winning an lbw decision against Gidman, but it was a rare bowling success on an easy-paced strip.
Opening batsman Tavare seemed certain to reach three figures having done all the hard work in reaching 86 but then drove Sean Ervine into the covers where substitute fielder Liam Dawson – on for the injured James Vince – held the catch. Tavare had faced 176 balls and hit 15 fours and Gloucestershire were now 206 for three.
Hamish Marshall contributed a breezy 96-ball 56 before being bowled by Ervine at 254 but Hampshire were wrong if they thought their punishment was over.
It was then that Cockbain and the left-handed Will Gidman came together and over the next 42 overs took the match away from Hampshire, almost certainly for the duration.
Hampshire fielder Joe Gatting was lucky not to have been injured when, fielding at short leg, he was struck on the helmet by Gidman. After medical attention and a new helmet, Gatting was able to continue.
Cockbain was soon outscored by the more aggressive Gidman but still made a useful 61 with eight fours before turning James Tomlinson’s left arm seam to square leg where Gatting held on.
Gloucestershire were then 415 for five but Gidman and former Hampshire batsman Benny Howell added another 31 by the close to compound Hampshire’s frustration.
At stumps, Gloucestershire were 446 for five from 123 overs with the prospect of more of the same on the last day and Hampshire needing to bat with greater resolve in their second innings to earn a draw.
Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein said: “Gloucestershire are in a commanding position, 149 ahead. They might have been tempted to put us in again tonight and it is good for us that they did not.
“Having been out in the field all day, the last thing we wanted was to bat again even for a few overs. The fewer overs we have to bat on the last day the better.”
James Tomlinson will not forget the rain-truncated second day of Hampshire’s LV= County Championship Division Two match with Gloucestershire at a damp Ageas Bowl in a hurry even if it fails to register with the other 21 players in the years to come.
Tomlinson, a Hampshire stalwart for a decade, reached the first half-century of his career, batting at number 11, and then took the only Gloucestershire wicket to fall before rain brought a premature end to proceedings mid-way through the afternoon session.
Only 32.2 overs were possible in total as Hampshire moved from their overnight 251 for nine to 297 all out and Gloucestershire made a steady response by reaching 94 for one, 203 behind with two days left to play.
The pitch was still lively and helpful for the bowlers when play resumed today but it did not appear so as Hampshire’s last-wicket pair of Tomlinson and David Balcombe combined to frustrate every change to the attack made by Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman.
Coming together when Hampshire were 182 for nine after losing seven wickets for 38 in a middle-order collapse, Balcombe and Tomlinson put on 115 in just under 30 overs, without either offering a genuine chance and batting in an orthodox fashion to shame those who had tumbled before them.
Tomlinson’s previous best was 43 but he raised his fifty with an edge over the slips for his seventh four and got a standing ovation for his efforts from the crowd and relieved team-mates on the home balcony.
Having reached the milestone, Tomlinson chipped the next delivery from slow left-arm spinner Tom Smith to mid-off where David Payne clutched the catch.
Tomlinson faced 98 balls in fractionally more than two hours of defiance while Balcombe, who has struggled to break into the team this season with his medium pace, was the senior participant of an obdurate partnership.
It was Hampshire’s best last-wicket stand for two years since Balcombe and Chris Wood put on 168 against Leicestershire at Grace Road.
Balcombe’s unbeaten 65 was the third half-century of his career, coming off 97 balls and including nine fours.
The last-wicket partnership ruined some Gloucestershire bowling analyses, with Liam Norwell, who had done so much damage yesterday, finishing with 4-103 while Smith took 3-30.
Gloucestershire needed a strong response and they got it thanks to openers Will Tavare and Chris Dent who raced to 74 in 21.2 overs with authority and determination.
But just as Gloucestershire seemed poised for a big total, Tomlinson was reintroduced to the Hampshire attack with devastating effect.
The bearded left-arm seamer had Dent, who had compiled a fluent 30, playing across the line to earn an lbw decision.
Tavare, who was unbeaten with 44 including eight fours, and Alex Gidman, who was 11 not out, took Gloucestershire through to the close before rain drove the players from the field in the 27th over of the innings.
Kyle Abbott, Tomlinson’s team-mate, said: “We were loving every minute of that last-wicket stand. I don’t think I have heard the Hampshire balcony that loud all season.
”I think Tomlinson’s maiden fifty got as much applause as the double-century James Vince got against Essex in the last championship match here. The guys were living each run.
”Hopefully the rain will juice-up the pitch and prove more favourable to the bowlers. It is swinging about already.”
Hampshire’s last-wicket pair of James Tomlinson and David Balcombe repaired a middle-order collapse to thwart Gloucestershire on a day of fluctuating fortunes in LV= County Championship Division Two.
Hampshire raced to 69 for one and then 144 for two after being put in, only for Liam Norwell to induce a slide in which Hampshire lost seven wickets for 38 in 12.1 overs.
Norwell took four quick wickets with his medium pace before Tomlinson and Balcombe, not renowned as batsmen, came together in an unbroken stand of 69 for the last wicket as Gloucestershire ran out of ideas.
At the close, delayed by rain earlier in the day, second-placed Hampshire had made 251-9 from 80 overs with Tomlinson 33 not out and Balcombe unbeaten on 38, leaving Gloucestershire a chance to reflect on why they had been unable to finish off their good work on a helpful pitch.
The rain wiped out the entire first session, meaning play did not start until 1.10pm after an early lunch. Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman noted the green tinge to the wicket and the Ageas Bowl’s reputation for aiding the bowlers and chose to field first.
Gidman must have started to regret his decision quickly as Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams put on 69 in 21.4 overs for the first wicket without alarms.
Benny Howell and wicketkeeper Adam Rouse, both former Hampshire players, combined to break the partnership when Carberry was caught behind attempting to remove his bat.
Hampshire showed no signs of being slowed by the England batsman’s dismissal as Adams and Will Smith took the score to 98 before Will Gidman got Adams to edge to Rouse.
Will Smith was bowled by Liam Norwell when five runs short of a half-century, which started a run of five wickets falling for 12 runs
At tea, Hampshire were in a dominant position at 106 for two with Smith and James Vince well set but the turning point came at 144 in the 50th over when Vince, who had struck five fours in his 25, was leg before to Norwell.
The Hampshire batting quickly subsided in his wake as Norwell bowled Smith for 45 and in rapid succession Sean Ervine, Joe Gatting, Adam Wheater, Danny Briggs and Kyle Abbott all fell, six wickets going down for 25 in nine tempestuous overs.
Ervine gave Iain Cockbain a catch at short-leg, Tom Smith deceived Gatting and Wheater edged Norwell to Cockbain at second slip. Briggs went to another slip catch by Chris Dent and Will Gidman returned to dismiss Abbott in identical fashion.
At 182 for nine, Hampshire were in disarray and the end looked close as Balcombe was joined at the crease by Tomlinson.
Viewed as an old-fashioned number 11, Tomlinson nevertheless put on 60 with Briggs against Surrey last time out and he and Balcombe defied Gloucestershire despite the many bowling changes made in a frantic last 18 overs of the day by Alex Gidman.
Neither batsman looked in any trouble as they complied their face-saving partnership and at the close Tomlinson was nine runs short of a career-best while Balcombe struck Norwell for successive boundaries on the way to his best score of the season.
Norwell finished the day with figures of four 4-87 but they might have been better had it not been for the defiance of the last-wicket pair who plundered runs from him as play drifted beyond 7pm and the attack visibly tired.
Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman said:’’ The partnership at the end was a good one. We tried everything to break it, spin, round-the-wicket, bumpers but to be fair they played well. They chanced their arm and had a bit of luck.
‘’ I am not disappointed, we had a pretty good day.
‘’Teams bat all the way down the order now and you have to keep things in perspective. Hampshire were 144 for two so taking seven wickets for 38 was a good effort.’’
Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein said:’’ It was a mixed day. We showed good resolve at the start and batted really well. Gloucestershire came back in to it but we showed great fight towards the end.
‘’On that pitch if we had bowled first I would have expected us to have got them out for 220, so what we have got it is above par.’’
Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bowl.
James Adams | Michael Carberry | William Smith | James Vince | Adam Wheater | Sean Ervine | Joe Gatting | Kyle Abbott | David Balcombe | Danny Briggs | James Tomlinson |
William Tavare | Christopher Dent | Alex Gidman | Hamish Marshall | Ian Cockbain | William Gidman | Benny Howell | Adam Rouse | Tom Smith | Liam Norwell | David Payne |