Hampshire Secure First Championship Win Of The Season

Tino Best helped Hampshire to a 69-run victory over Nottinghamshire, taking 4-47 at the climax of day four at the Ageas Bowl

Day One:

Sean Ervine (38*) and Tom Alsop (32*) ended a heavily rain-affected day one of the Specsavers County Championship match strongly, forging a 65-run partnership against Nottinghamshire’s stern bowling attack at the Ageas Bowl, and finishing on 149-4. 

Jimmy Adams (30) hit his 12,000th first-class run before being caught and bowled by Notts bowler Luke Fletcher, who dealt Hampshire a further setback by removing Liam Dawson with his next delivery.

Ervine and Alsop steadied a Hampshire innings interrupted by rain and hindered by some fine bowling from the visitors, and the two looked in good touch in the final session of day one.  

In Will Smith’s first game as Hampshire skipper, Sean Ervine returned to the squad and batsman Tom Alsop was included - having scored two impressive centuries for the Second XI – with James Vince away on international duty with England, and Gareth Andrew making way.

After Nottinghamshire elected to field in an uncontested toss, Michael Carberry (19) forged a 45-run partnership with Jimmy Adams (30) - taking advantage of Chris Read’s drop in the first over from Jake Ball (1-21).

Carberry was eventually dismissed by Ball, edging to debutant Dan Christian at third slip when he had been looking assured alongside Adams.

Adams reached 12,000 first-class runs, keeping out the Notts bowling attack with Carberry and then Will Smith, but he was caught and bowled by Nottinghamshire’s Fletcher (2-29), who then took Liam Dawson (0) with the following ball.

The experienced duo of skipper Will Smith (16) and Sean Ervine (38*) patiently built upon Hampshire’s 60/3, before their patience was truly tested by unrelenting showers from lunch until tea.

Smith had faced 65 balls, watchfully scoring 16 runs, when he was trapped at lbw by Ball – Nottinghamshire’s fourth and final wicket of the day, Hampshire left on 84-4.

Tom Alsop replaced captain Smith at the crease, having scored two centuries for the Second XI in the week, and struck the ball sweetly alongside a hugely experienced Ervine in the final session of the day.

Ervine and Alsop battled defiantly against tough opposition and in spite of weather interruptions to forge a 65-run partnership, ending day one in strong fashion, reaching 149-4.

Despite a difficult morning session and a rain-affected afternoon, Hampshire will day two greatly encouraged by a fine display of batting in the final session.   

Day Two:

Tom Alsop (72) hit the first Specsavers County Championship fifty of his career to rejuvenate Hampshire's against Nottinghamshire, before Ryan McLaren (3-17) put the home side in the driving seat on day two at the Ageas Bowl, leading the visitors (99-5) by 171 runs. 

Alsop took Hampshire to 232-7 having forged a resilient 72-run partnership with experienced batsman Sean Ervine (42), and a 33-run stand from James Tomlinson (21*) and Mason Crane (10) usefully pushed Hants to 270 all out.

McLaren then produced a wicked spell with the ball, finding edges from Steven Mullaney, Brendan Taylor and Samit Patel, after some terrific fielding had reduced Notts to 2-8, ending the day on 99-5.

Hampshire had been on the back foot on day one, but Alsop and Ervine’s vital 72-run partnership changed the game. 

Alsop raised the bat to polish off a magnificent week of run-scoring for Hampshire, adding a first-class fifty to his two centuries for the Second XI, which had ultimately warranted his selection for this match.

Adam Wheater (19) was dismissed by left-armer Harry Gurney, his slight edge finding the gloves of Nottinghamshire skipper and wicket-keeper Chris Read, leaving Hampshire on 199 with four wickets remaining.

Alsop’s fine innings was brought to end by Gurney, who took his second wicket of the match with an outswinging delivery which nicked behind to Read, after McLaren had helped Hampshire past 200 and onto 228/6 at lunch.

A flurry of wickets transformed Gurney’s figures, taking 3-4 after lunch, McLaren edging to Wessels and Tino Best (0) trapped at lbw not long after Alsop was removed, leaving Hampshire on 235-9 in the 93rd over.

Mason Crane (10) and Tomlinson (20*) forged a valuable 33-run stand to frustrate Nottinghamshire, who eventually took Crane’s wicket through Patel (1-19), caught behind by Read.

Hampshire made a terrific start in the field, first McLaren pocketing Mullaney (0), diving athletically to his left at gully, before Michael Carberry ran out Jake Libby (2). Nottinghamshire’s Michael Lumb (25*) and Brendan Taylor (15*) survived Hampshire’s imposing start with the ball and reached tea at 32/2.

After his excellent catch, McLaren then troubled the Notts batsman with the ball, first finding an edge from Lumb (32) that carried to Jimmy Adams at first slip, and leaving Notts on 53-3. The first of three terrific dismissals.

The South African then took Taylor (28), who was moving along nicely, and wasted no time in removing his replacement, Patel (3), to firmly place Hampshire in the driving seat - Notts 72-5.

Notts batsman Riki Wessels (22*) and Chris Read (8*) then led Notts to 99-5 at stumps on the second day, leaving Hants in a promising position going into the third day. 

Day Three:

Captain Will Smith produced his first Specsavers County Championship fifty of the season to extend Hampshire’s lead over Nottinghamshire to 270 runs, after Hampshire bowled out Notts for 189 on day three.

Smith continued a progressive day three for Hampshire by patiently scoring 61 runs off 157 balls, and helping the home side to a commanding 70-run lead going into the final day at the Ageas Bowl.

Mason Crane (3-19) proved hugely effective with the ball in the morning session, reducing Notts to 189 all out with the assistance of Liam Dawson and Tino Best, who ended the visitors’ first innings in style.

Crane led a dominant Hampshire force during the morning session, dismissing Dan Christian (14), Brett Hutton (8) and Luke Fletcher (0), before Tino Best (2-44) ended the visitors’ first innings in style by removing Harry Gurney’s (16) middle stump.

Best embodied Hampshire’s confidence with the ball on day three, and his celebration suggested he is rather enjoying his cricket at the Ageas Bowl.

Crane’s crucial impact with the ball began when Dan Christian chopped on, Hampshire finding a breakthrough after Nottinghamshire had moved from 72 to 149 with five wickets remaining.

It was Liam Dawson who took the most important wicket of the morning session, dismissing Riki Wessels (72), who had been single-minded in his run-scoring, before being caught by Sean Ervine.

After Best finished Hampshire’s fine morning with the ball, Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams faced a maiden over before lunch, and returned to the middle leading by 81 after the break.

Hampshire struggled to find rhythm in their second batting innings, beginning with the dismissal Carberry, who edged to Wessels from Harry Gurney’s moving ball and handed the job of boosting Hampshire’s lead beyond 100 to skipper Will Smith.

Adams and Dawson soon followed Carberry and Hampshire required a captain’s intervention. Smith obliged, and produced an exemplary innings with the bat, eventually surpassing fifty and going on to make 61.

Ervine (45) and Smith (61) recovered the situation and found the boundary beautifully, supplying a composed 78-run partnership to extend Hampshire’s lead over Notts to 180 runs at tea.

Tom Alsop (7) was unable to reproduce his fine first innings knock of 72, edging to Wessels from Gurney (4-34), who took his fourth wicket of the afternoon.

With Hampshire struggling to find rhythm with the bat, Will Smith produced his first County Championship fifty of the season, before McLaren helped the home side extend their lead to 270 runs - a commanding position going into the final day.

Day Four:

Hampshire sealed their first Specsavers County Championship victory of the 2016 season against Nottinghamshire, winning by 69 runs after a thrilling conclusion on day four at the Ageas Bowl.

After Hampshire declared on 223/9 during the morning session on the final day, leading by 304 runs, West Indian fast bowler Tino Best took 4-47 to settle an enthralling encounter with Notts, as Mason Crane (3-70) and Ryan McLaren (2-37) dismissed key batsmen.

The match was too close to call at tea, with the Hants bowlers requiring five wickets and Notts' batsmen needing 127 runs, but Best and Crane delivered an breath-taking finale to a terrfically unpredicatble match at the Ageas Bowl.

The home side usefully added 30 runs to their batting total from the first eight overs on day four before declaring, satisfied with a 304-run lead. James Tomlinson (16*) and Mason Crane (13*) finished unbeaten, after Ryan McLaren’s (43) impressive contribution with the bat.

Best then struck twice with the ball to reduce Notts to 21/2, trapping Michael Lumb at lbw after opener Jake Libby had edged to wicket-keeper Adam Wheater, and handing Hampshire the early initiative.

McLaren (2-37) solidified Hampshire’s strong position in the game before lunch, taking the key wicket of Steven Mullaney (20) with the last ball of the morning session to reduce Notts to 50/3 at the break, trailing the home side by 254 runs.

The South African bowler then continued Hampshire’s dominance on day four, removing Riki Wessels (6) - who edged to Wheater – and reducing the visitors to 69/4.

With Notts’ batsmen on the back foot, Brendan Taylor (71) supplied his highest score of the season – a resilient innings which clawed Notts back into contention in the afternoon session.

Best never seemed far from the centre of the action, and when Taylor was going well alongside Samit Patel (46), the West Indian took an excellent catch for Mason Crane’s first wicket of the innings. The wicket of Taylor was a crucial step towards victory for Hampshire, and Best’s reaction showed it.

As play approached tea, Samit Patel (65) closed in on his fifty, frustrating a Hampshire bowling attack that had lost some firepower since lunch.

At the start of the final session of the match, Hampshire’s versatile bowling attack – Crane, Best and McLaren – searched for a sixth wicket, up against Patel and Dan Christian (1*), who had equal rights for securing their own victory.

Two opportunities for Will Smith to catch Notts’ resilient batsmen fell agonisingly short of Hampshire’s captain, as the visitors moved to within 100 of victory.

An enthralling climax to the match saw Hampshire close in on victory through Tino Best, removing Christian’s (31) middle stump, and then Brett Hutton (0) for good measure – a magnificent catch at deep fine leg by Crane giving the home side real hope.

Crane cranked up the heat on Nottinghamshire, as Patel was caught from the young spinner, edging to Sean Ervine in the slips when attempting a desperately extravagant shot.

Hampshire secured a courageous 69-run victory over Notts when Michael Carberry pocketed batsman Harry Gurney at point, bringing an end to a fascinating game that had captivated the Ageas Bowl crowd. Dominated by Hampshire on days two and three, then thrown into the balance on day four, it was hard to predict its outcome.

Hants' victory, taking 21 points from the match, moves the side off the bottom of the Division One table and they will hope to compound their triumph when they travel to Middlesex on Sunday.