Giles White: "I Couldn't Have Asked For More"

Hampshire's Director of Cricket responds to the team's defeat to Durham in the Specsavers County Championship

Day One:

Will Smith (90) believes Hampshire are "in the ascendancy" after Hants scored 370-6 against Durham on the first day of a crucial encounter in the Specsavers County Championship at the Ageas Bowl.

Fighting for Division One survival, Smith's 110-run stand with Jimmy Adams (53) for the first wicket put Hampshire on track for a formidable total and the former Durham man was one of four batsmen to reach fifty during a dominant display from the home side, who secured four vital batting points.

Sean Ervine (50) surpassed 1,000 first-class runs for the season and England's James Vince top-scored with 92 as Liam Dawson closed the day unbeaten on 47, with he and Lewis McManus (6*) just thirty runs from securing all five batting points.  

Adams and Smith compiled fifties and established a 111-run opening wicket partnership during a progressive morning session against Durham, as Hampshire went for lunch 116-1.

Adams looked determined and composed as he made his way to an eighth Championship fifty of 2016,  driving his 95th ball to the boundary in the 26thover as the home side passed 100 without loss.

Smith reached his half-century off 80 balls, scoring quickly and effectively as his former side took their first wicket, with Adams’ excellent knock ended by Scott Borthwick shortly before lunch.

The way we see it, we've won day one and Hampshire are in the ascendancy.

We're setting out to win this game and with four days of weather, we're in a position to force a victory and put it out of any doubt - that's the plan. Having a third century stand with Jimmy was really satisfying, especially given how important this game is, and having the right hand-left hand combination worked well.

It's a really good day for us and if we can squeeze another thirty runs out from the next thirteen overs then we've done a great job

Will Smith, Hampshire Opening Batsman

Alsop, whose single took Hamsphire to 116-1 at the break, was removed with the first ball of the afternoon session, but James Vince ensured Durham’s joy was short-lived.

Wicked ball striking from the England man saw him race to a 48-ball fifty to help Hampshire move beyond 200 and secure their first bonus point of the match. Vince injected skill, dynamicity and an impetuous flow of runs as Hampshire assumed a commanding position after just 50 overs. 

Sean Ervine got underway by spanking a short Pringle delivery for four, after Smith had been caught at point attempting to do the same thing against South African seamer Brydon Carse, and Hampshire’s in-form batsman immediately looked in good touch.

Hampshire were in full flow and playing without fear as he and Dawson secured a third batting point in the 77th over, pushing on without taking a breath after Vince was run out by Stokes, going for a quick single.

Ervine reached fifty for the fifth time in six innings, continuing a spell of remarkable run-scoring since his return from injury, but his wicket was claimed by Pringle immediately after the accolade as Hampshire’s ferocious hitting was briefly halted at 325-5.

Dawson, in good shape following his selection for England’s ODI and Lions squads, helped the home side clinch a fourth batting point in the company of Ryan McLaren (13), who had previously registered his first Hampshire ton in his latest innings against Surrey.

Durham managed to prevent McLaren from having the same impact here though, as Pringle struck for a third time and trapped the South African all-rounder at lbw, leaving Hants 352-6 in the 89th over.

Dawson and McManus will enter day two with the task of hitting 30 runs from the next 13 overs in order to achieve all five batting bonus points, with great credit going to the work of Hampshire's openers and thrilling knocks from Vince and Ervine at a vital time.

Day Two: 
Brad Wheal took three wickets for 24 runs to restrict Durham to 242-7 after Hampshire posted an impressive first innings total of 411 on day two of their vital Specsavers County Championship encounter at the Ageas Bowl.
All-rounder Liam Dawson (62) reached his fifth Championship half-century of the season to help Hants secure all five batting points and took two wickets alongside Wheal, who removed England's Ben Stokes (50) and two other key Durham batsmen, as the visitors were cut to 186-7 in the 59th over.  
Spinner Mason Crane crucially dismissed visiting skipper Paul Collingwood for a duck as Hampshire finished day two with a lead of 169 despite a 56-run partnership between Michael Richardson (50*) and Brydon Carse (30*) giving Durham hope of securing at least a second batting point on the third day.
Hampshire’s first triumph of day two came with the bat, as Dawson and Lewis McManus (24) completed a formidable effort on day one to reach 400 runs and attain all five batting points.
Dawson surpassed fifty runs for the sixth time in the Championship to move the home side within three runs of 400, then McManus took Hants over the line and onto 411 all out in the company of Gareth Berg and Crane, as Ryan Pringle took three wickets in ten balls.
Brad Wheal flashed one to the boundary and remained unbeaten in the middle, as McManus was caught in the deep by Pringle and Hampshire’s bowlers prepared themselves for action.
With Durham chasing 411, Gareth Berg dealt the visitors an early setback as in-form Keaton Jennings was rapped on the pad in the second over and the threat of Hants’ seamers was immediately apparent. Scott Borthwick joined at 2-1.
Wheal made quite an introduction by striking with his first ball of the day, finding an edge from Borthwick and reducing Durham to 39-2 in the 11thover.
Dawson featured for two threatening overs before lunch, going for just one run and effectively restricting the visitors to 44-2 from 14 overs.
The England all-rounder then supplied Hampshire’s third wicket with his fourth ball after the break, deservedly removing Stoneham, who’d been deceived consistently throughout three tight overs.
After Durham found a response through the resolute pair of Graham Clark and Stokes, Dawson removed Graham Clark for his second wicket to end an 87-run stand and Mason Crane ended Paul Collingwood’s afternoon before it had begun as two wickets in quick succession put Hampshire back on track.
Crane, deceptive and unpredictable, encouraged Collingwood to play and skew as he pushed forward onto a turning ball, having troubled Stokes with varying length and turn since being thrown the ball by captain James Vince.  
Brad Wheal gave Hampshire real momentum in the game and transformed his figures into 3-23 as two catches reduced the visitors to 186-7. First, McLaren remained calm on the boundary rope as Stokes misguided a pull to deep square leg, then Jimmy Adams held onto a reckless hook from Ryan Pringle.
After Wheal’s spell clinched a second bowling point for Hampshire, the home side would have to wait for a final bonus point as Richardson (50*) and Carse (30*) put on a fifty stand for the eighth wicket. 
Day Three:
Liam Dawson's (4-100) vital contributions on a rain-affected day three at the Ageas Bowl helped Hampshire enter the final day of the Specsavers County Championship season leading Durham by 226 runs, 176-7 overnight.
Dawson grabbed two key wickets alongside Brad Wheal (4-39) as Hants bowled the visitors out for 361 and produced an essential 39-run knock after the home side were reduced to 108-6 by a flurry of wickets for Ryan Pringle (5-64), combining superbly with Lewis McManus (41*) in a fifty stand before close.
McManus, who has steered Hampshire out of trouble, will look to enhance a lead off 226 in the company of nightwatchman Mason Crane (1*), with a view to Hants securing Division One survival with the ball.
A morning on which Hampshire would have hoped to rip through Durham’s tail end was ruled out due to persistent showers and an early lunch was taken at midday.
The covers, heavy with precipitation, were relieved during the break and the outfield was ready for action when the players resumed at 12.40pm.
Dawson finished off Durham to take his tally to 4-100 from 33 gritty overs, but not before the visitors cut Hampshire’s lead to just 50 runs as Michael Richardson (99*) and Graham Onions (38) produced a frustrating partnership.
After Wheal removed Pringle to end an 86-run stand, Dawson killed Richardson’s formidable knock in the cruellest of ways, trapping his partner Chris Rushworth for a duck. Hampshire’s players, relieved to bowl out Durham for 361, remained gracious as they applauded Richardson, one shy of his sixth Championship hundred.
Crane had been unfortunate not to take wickets in the afternoon session, deceiving his opponents frequently and prompting cries from the Hampshire field on numerous occasions.
With a head-start of 50 runs, Will Smith and Jimmy Adams quickly doubled their advantage upon returning to the middle, scoring 11 off the first over and reaching fifty inside 10 overs.
The opening pair were both removed for thirty runs though, with two batsmen – Alsop and Vince - falling in quick succession between their dismissals. Jimmy was caught top-edging Borthwick in the tenth over, and Smith prodded Pringle’s delivery to short leg in the 17th.
Despite leading by over 150 runs, Hampshire were on the back foot at 108-6 as Sean Ervine and Ryan McLaren both fell in the 25th over to Pringle, who finished the day with excellent figures, taking just 45 balls to clinch his five-fer.
McManus and Dawson, who had crafted an important 45 together in the first innings, responded with firm resolve to Durham’s pressure and forged a fifty partnership.
After Dawson became Pringle's fifth scalp of the afternoon, Crane joined McManus as the nightwatchman, seeing out the final overs and giving Hampshire confidence of retaining Division One status on the final day of the season.

Day Four:

Director of Cricket Giles White believes Hampshire's players have given him everything in the Specsavers County Championship this season, following the team's six-wicket defeat to Durham at the Ageas Bowl.

Lewis McManus and Gareth Berg gave Hants hope of retaining Division One status as the home side established a 295-run lead over Durham, before Hampshire's bowlers were undone by high-quality batting from the visiting side, who chased down the required 296 with three overs to spare.

Mason Crane provided Hampshire with a glimmer of positivity by taking three wickets on a disappointing day for the club, who will spend the 2017 season in Division Two despite a heroic fight in Division One.   

Hampshire’s plan to bat for an hour on day four was executed brilliantly, as Lewis McManus reached a 68-ball fifty and Gareth Berg added 36 runs off 43 balls to extend the home side’s lead to 295 runs.

McManus was cool, calm and versatile on his way to 62, exhibiting the patience of an experienced veteran whilst showing his age with inventive reverse sweeps.

Setting Durham a target of 296, Hampshire aimed to take ten wickets in 78 overs in order to move above Lancashire with a victory and secure Division One survival.

Mason Crane claimed the only scalp of the afternoon session though, as Durham halved Hampshire’s lead and went for tea at 149-1, with Mark Stoneman (81) at the helm of the visitors’ response.

We came into today with a lot of optimism and we wanted a fairy tale ending but it wasn’t to be. Durham played exceptionally well today and we’ve ended up on the wrong side of the result. It’s bitterly disappointing for us.

The bowlers bowled pretty well and it might have been different on another day, but we’ve come up against two highly skilled batsmen.

I’m proud of the team and I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players. There are lots of positives with plenty of young talent – it’s a shame because I think we deserved more than that. We know what to expect from this Division, it’s not easy. We’ll take stock, let the dust settle and make plans for next year.

We have some ambitious cricketers at this club and there’s a great spirit here.

Giles White, Director of Cricket

Crane, having threatened with limited success in the match, generated serious turn and rapped dangerman Keaton Jennings on the pad to reduce Durham to 75-1 in the 27th over. With 51 overs left in the day and the visitors needing 221 runs, Hampshire had reason to believe the match was theirs.

Stoneman batted with steely resolve though, as he reached fifty off 78 balls, and put on 75 runs with Scott Borthwick before tea to frustrate Hampshire’s bowlers, who deserved more than a single wicket from the session. Will Smith and Liam Dawson triggered cries from the slip cordon, but the finger was never raised.

The evening session brought more success for Hampshire’s bowlers, as Crane tripled his tally and Dawson found a way to defeat Stoneman, who had looked immovable before being caught impressively by Tom Alsop, fielding at short leg, on 133 runs.

Durham were all but confirmed winners, requiring 59 runs from the last 16 overs, but Crane managed to take two consolation wickets, as Hampshire restricted the visitors to 282-4.

The late effort wasn't quite enough, as Durham secured a six-wicket victory with three overs to spare.