James Vince pressed his case for England selection by striking a sensational double-century as Hampshire salvaged a draw from the Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.
Vince, unbeaten on 63 in a score of 178 for two overnight, went on to make 201 not out in a marathon vigil to lead his side to 432 for four and an honourable draw. Hashim Amla made 107 and Rilee Rossouw an unbeaten 65 as Somerset’s attack could make little headway on a flat pitch.
Somerset never looked likely to take the eight final day wickets they needed to clinch a third victory in four Championship games. They had to be content with 13 points, while Hampshire took nine.
Amla began the day on 86, with his team 97 runs behind, and progressed comfortably to his second century of the season off 177 balls, with 15 fours. He helped take the score to 233 – a stand of 194 with Vince – before edging a short, wide ball from Lewis Gregory to wicketkeeper Steve Davies.
Vince reined himself in admirably to reach his own hundred off 277 deliveries, with 13 boundaries, by which time he had batted for 5 hours and 24 minutes, making it the slowest century in the Championship this season.
The innings was all the more admirable for that as a player renowned for going for his shots continued to put his team first, displaying exemplary concentration.
Vince lost another partner with the total on 256 as Tom Alsop, on 12, pushed forward to Tim Groenewald and edged to James Hildreth at first slip.
Somerset had taken the new ball with the total on 210, but it soon became apparent that the pitch was not going to assist seam or spin, while the swing evident over the first two days was absent under clear blue skies
There was little or no turn for England Lions off-spinner Dom Bess and by lunch Hampshire were 260 for four, just 15 runs behind.
Somerset’s seamers managed to beat the bats of Vince and Rossouw a few times after lunch without finding an edge and, as the sun continued to beat down, it became tough work for all the bowlers.
Vince went to 200 in the final session off 434 balls, having extended his boundary count to 28. By the time the players shook hands at 4.50pm, he had battled away for more than eight and a half hours, his longest ever Championship innings.
Hashim Amla and James Vince gave Hampshire a fighting chance of saving their Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.
Things looked bleak for the visitors when the home side extended their first innings total from an overnight 324 for seven to 506 all out, James Hildreth making 184 and Dom Bess 92. Gareth Berg claimed five for 130.
That gave Somerset a lead of 275 and they pressed home the advantage by reducing Hampshire to 39 for two in their second innings before Amla and Vince launched a stubborn third-wicket stand.
By the close they had added 139, Amla unbeaten on 86 and Vince 63 not out. With the pitch showing little sign of turning for Somerset’s two spinners, the hosts faced the prospects of a tough final day to force their third win of the season.
The day began with Hildreth on 125. With only three added to the total, he lost partner Jack Leach, who was bowled by Fidel Edwards shouldering arms for 22.
Hildreth progressed serenely to his 15th 150 in first class cricket and was outscored by the positive Bess, who reached his half-century off just 61 balls, with 10 fours.
The pair took Somerset to maximum batting points, bringing up the 400 in the 95th over, and had added 145 in entertaining fashion when Hildreth fell in the final over before lunch, miscuing a full toss from Tom Alsop to mid-on.
The 33-year-old batsman had faced 253 balls and hit 22 fours. Bess was unbeaten on 84 as lunch was taken with the score 472 for nine.
Tim Groenewald (25 not out) helped Bess take the total past 500 before his partner fell just eight short of a second first class century, bowled off stump by a good ball from Berg, who had toiled away in a Hampshire attack again deprived of Kyle Abbott because of injury.
Hampshire looked to be heading for defeat when Jimmy Adams, on 11, slashed at a delivery from Lewis Gregory and edged a catch to wicketkeeper Steve Davies.
Joe Weatherley followed for the same score, caught at square leg by George Bartlett, who had just been positioned there, off a short ball from Groenewald. At tea, Hampshire were 70 for two, still 205 behind.
But the ball was not swinging under clear afternoon skies and when Somerset skipper Tom Abell turned to Jack Leach and Dom Bess, they were unable to extract any significant spin.
Vince, who was dropped on eight by Craig Overton at gully off Groenewald, a tough diving chance, settled in to bat with few other alarms, while Amla demonstrated his class at the other end.
Amla was first to his half-century off 101 balls, with 6 fours, and Vince followed, from 160 deliveries, also having struck six boundaries. By stumps they had reduced the deficit to 97, batting with increasing assurance.
James Hildreth hit his 43rd first class century to put Somerset in a strong position on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match against Hampshire at Taunton.
The 33-year-old batsman was unbeaten on 125 when bad light ended play, as his side posted 324 for seven in reply to Hampshire’s first innings total of 231, a lead of 93. Craig Overton contributed 80.
The visitors were inhibited by an injury to seamer Kyle Abbott, who turned an ankle while fielding and was unable to bowl until after tea, which was taken with Somerset 203 for five. Gareth Berg claimed four for 88.
The day began with Hampshire 198 for eight in their first innings. Brad Wheal finished unbeaten on 25 as they added 33, with Tim Groenewald and Overton taking the remaining two wickets.
Somerset had put ten on the board in reply when Abbott was injured fielding an on-drive from Renshaw and had to leave the field. That put extra pressure on Fidel Edwards, Wheal and Berg, who all stepped up to the challenge.
Edwards bowled Eddie Byrom on the back foot for ten with the total 39 and it was soon 40 for two as George Bartlett edged Wheal to Rilee Rossouw at first slip.
Renshaw uppercut an audacious six over backward point off Wheal before Berg had him taken in the slips by Jimmy Adams for 36. Tom Abell elected to pull his first ball, only to top-edge a catch to fine leg off Berg.
A key moment followed when Hildreth, on 24, was dropped by Edwards at mid-wicket off Berg. It would have been 71 for five had the straightforward chance been accepted.
Instead, Hildreth and Steve Davies took the score to 131 in the afternoon session before Davies retired hurt on 26, having been hit on the ankle by a ball from Edwards.
Lewis Gregory was bowled off an edge by Wheal trying to withdraw the bat and when Overton joined Hildreth the scoreboard read 134 for five.
The pair saw Somerset through to tea with the best batting of the innings, taking the total to 203. After the break Overton reached an impressive half-century off 58 balls, with 7 fours.
Hildreth played with customary freedom to record his 41st hundred for Somerset, made off 138 deliveries, with 13 boundaries. At times he made batting look easy, timing the ball sweetly all around the wicket.
Overton’s fine contribution ended when he played on to Berg, the ball after being dropped at gully by Adams. He and Hildreth had added 133 in 25.5 overs.
Davies added only seven to his score on returning before edging Berg to Adams at second slip. By then Somerset were 54 ahead.
Jack Leach helped extend the advantage with some quality shots and by the time the light closed in with a possible 11 overs still available, Hildreth had faced 176 balls, extending his boundary count to 15.
Tom Abell demonstrated his growing prowess as a bowler to help Somerset reduce Hampshire to 198 for eight on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton.
The skipper, who had claimed only three first class victims before the start of this season, took his tally to nine for the current campaign, at an average of just 8.44, with three for 18 from 8.1 overs of medium pace after winning the toss.
There were two wickets each for Tim Gronewald and Lewis Gregory as Hampshire stuttered from 86 for one during the morning session. James Vince (44) and Rilee Rossouw (38) were the main contributors for the visitors.
Rain and bad light prevented any further play after 3.25pm when an early tea was taken because of the first shower.
Hampshire began confidently against sub below par Somerset bowling after being invited to take first use of the same pitch employed against Yorkshire in the previous Championship game at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Jimmy Adams and Joe Weatherly took the total to 44 in the 12th over before Adams was caught behind off Groenewald for 23.
Weatherley, who survived a straightforward chance to Matt Renshaw at second slip off Groenewald when on 13, progressed to 28 without further alarm, but fell lbw to Abell in the 19th over.
Vince looked in good form, displaying some trademark cover drives in collecting 10 fours before edging a swinging delivery from the Somerset captain through to wicketkeeper Steve Davies.
At lunch Hampshire were 111 for three, with honours even. But the first ball after the interval from Groenewald saw Hashim Amla, on four, strangled down the leg side as Davies claimed his third catch from a feint nick.
Rossouw was soon looking to counter-attack, striking eight boundaries in his aggressive 47-ball innings. He lost partner Tom Alsop, bowled by Gregory for 20, with the total 165.
Dom Bess claimed his first wicket of the season to send back Rossouw and make it 178 for six. The batsman was distraught at getting a leading edge trying to work the England Lions off-spinner through the leg side and giving a catch to Jack Leach in the covers.
Abell is a reluctant bowler, but worked on his skills while in Australia during the winter, and is reckoned to swing the ball both ways by Somerset head coach Jason Kerr.
He claimed his third wicket of the innings when Renshaw held a tumbling catch at second slip, grasping the ball at what looked the third attempt to send back McManus.
Rain had been forecast and, although it wasn’t heavy to begin with, poor light prevented a resumption.