6 Apr 2023 | LV= Insurance County Championship 2023
231 all out
132 for 2
185 all out
177 all out
Hampshire win by 8 wickets

Day One

Words by Alex Smith ECB Reporters Network

Hampshire's Mohammad Abbas provided his relentless best to bowl Nottinghamshire out for 185 on their return to the LV= Insurance County Championship Division One.

Pakistan fast bowler Abbas claimed six for 49 as he ripped out the Notts top order before coming back to deal with the tail.

Only Joe Clarke and Tom Moores’ 47 and 49 stood up to Hampshire’s imperious attack, with James Fuller also picking up a pair of wickets.

Championship debutant Fletcha Middleton then kept the response in order with an impressive 56 not out as Hampshire ended the day on 119 for three – 66 runs shy of Notts’ first innings score.

Abbas has been a menace for Championship batters since arriving at Hampshire in 2021 – with wicket tallies of 41 and 50 coming at an average well under 20.

But that hasn’t persuaded Pakistan to bring him back into their Test side for the first time since August 2021, with his exile coming after a run of indifferent form.

Even with the likes of Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf unavailable during this winter’s Test series against England, he still couldn’t find a way back into the squad. Pakistan’s loss has been Hampshire’s gain.

All his attributes – nibbling the ball around with metronomic precision – are suited to the Ageas Bowl, especially in early April.

It was therefore with a little surprise that Notts captain Steven Mullaney chose to bat first, although less so when Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett eased to 42 without loss before Abbas found his groove.

Abbas ground through to his sixth over before Duckett pushed to first slip before Hameed – who has been dropped second ball of the match – prodded behind in the following over.

Ben Slater and Steven Mullaney were both victim to Abbas, either side of Kyle Abbott plinking Lyndon James’ outside edge to leave Notts 93 for five.

Abbas’ rest allowed Moores and Clarke to rebuild watchfully, although the latter played typically stylishly through the off side.

It took 34 overs before James Vince veered away from his strike trio of Abbas, Abbott and Keith Barker when he brought Fuller into the attack.

Fuller had Clarke caught behind in his fourth over before Liam Patterson-White was dropped first ball but caught soon after for a quickfire double for the former Gloucestershire bowler.

Abbas returned to complete his five-for as Olly Stone was caught at the wicket and Luke Fletcher chipped to mid-wicket - it was Abbas' third six-wicket haul for Hampshire.

Moores closed in on a deserved half-century but in trying to come back for a second, last man Dane Peterson was caught short of his ground by a pin-point throw from Vince on the boundary.

In reply, Stone marked his Notts debut with a wicket with his ninth delivery, as Felix Organ was caught at second slip.

Nick Gubbins followed in a similar fashion off Fletcher before Vince was bowled by a James snorter to see the hosts slump to 57 for three.

Middleton – son of former Hampshire player and current batting coach Tony – was making his County Championship debut – having impressed in a First Class match and One Day Cup campaign last season.

Middleton had been battling at the other end but unleashed his innings with a trio of boundaries in a Stone over to get over any potential nerves.

On a pitch prepared by groundstaff brother Finn he looked in little bother has he was joined in an unbroken 62-run stand with Liam Dawson.

He reach his fifty in 88 balls just before bad light pulled the players off seven overs early – having previously been unblemished by conditions.

Day Two

Words by Alex Smith ECB Reporters Network

Ben Duckett taught his Nottinghamshire team-mates some of his learnings from his winter with England before Kyle Abbott shrunk the visitors on day two at The Ageas Bowl.

Opening batter Duckett grabbed a quick-fire 51 which brought a whiff of the panache he showed during his hectic winter with England to the LV= Insurance County Championship.

But Hampshire, who had quickly seen their first-innings lead of 40 wiped out, reaffirmed their position on the front foot through Abbott’s four for 30 – which included three wickets in eight balls.

Newly promoted Notts ended the day on 146 for six– with a lead of 100 on a pitch that isn’t getting harder to bat on.

Duckett embraced Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes’ entertaining style to average 56, with a century and four fifties during Test tours to Pakistan and New Zealand – with further successes in the limited-overs formats.

In all likelihood, he will open for England in the one-off Test against Ireland in June and then in the Ashes. But he still needed to start the season strongly.

He had bumped Ben Slater down to No.3 – albeit not through his own demands – and despite a few moments of quality, fell to the imperious Mohammad Abbas for 24 in the first innings.

The closest he had come to “BazBall” then was a dance and swing, but second time around he looked to punish the bad balls with an air of confidence.

He and Haseeb Hameed had scrubbed off Hampshire’s 40-run first innings lead within 10 overs using timely aggression. Any width was carved to the offside boundaries with little care for the 13 wickets that had previously been snared behind the wicket.

Hameed guided Barker to first slip, before Duckett reach his half-century in 54 balls. And then Abbott pounced.

Fast bowler Abbott regularly has spells where he becomes unplayable with his bustling nip in both directions. Duckett, Joe Clarke and Lyndon James felt the full force of once such burst just after tea.

The former South African international trapped Duckett lbw before finding Clarke and James’ outside edges in a formidable double wicket maiden – the damage was three wickets in eight balls and Notts sliding from 86 for one to 86 for four.

Ben Slater started watchfully for his 43 before swinging more and more frequently to eventually hole out to deep cover.

Steven Mullaney batted out 63 balls for his 12 before Abbott returned to have him lbw and swing the momentum towards the hosts.

Earlier, Hampshire had gained a first-innings lead but had lost their last seven wickets for 111 runs to suggest they had missed an opportunity to steam ahead – although high-quality bowling rather than poor batting was largely to blame.

Dane Paterson and Luke Fletcher were exceptional in the morning session with their tightness and challenging bowling. It had taken Hampshire 62 minutes to score their first boundary off the bat. The former pinned Liam Dawson and ended Fletcha Middleton’s promising 59.

Ben Brown and Ian Holland slowly rebuilt with a 47-run stand but both fell to Fletcher – who claimed three for 44.

Olly Stone returned after lunch with verve to pick up Keith Barker and Kyle Abbott to end his first innings as a Notts bowler with three for 82, while South African added James Fuller to claim three for 39.

Day Three

Words by Alex Smith ECB Reporters Network

Hampshire put their LV= Insurance County Championship title marker down with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Nottinghamshire.

Hampshire are aiming to win their first Championship for 50 years, after two near misses, and chased down 132 with ease thanks to Fletcha Middleton’s second half-century of the match.

Middleton scored 65 and Nick Gubbins unbeaten on 54, after a 111-run second wicket stand – as Hampshire continued their 2022 form, where they won more games than any other team.

Mohammad Abbas claimed his 100th Hampshire wicket to return match figures of eight for 116 in the process of bowling Notts out for 177 – as their arrival back in Division One earned them just three points to Hampshire’s 19.

After Abbas’ heroics, Felix Organ put some jitters in the pursuit as his hard-handed defensive push lifted to Ben Duckett at second slip.

But Middleton, buoyed by his first-innings 59, and Gubbins steadied the nerves and ticked off runs in a watchful manner after lunch – with Luke Fletcher sending down five successive maidens.

Middleton – whose father Tony played and now coaches at the county, and brother Finn is on the groundstaff – has taken to First Class cricket astonishingly well. He scored a half-century in his only previous innings, against Sri Lanka Cricket Development XI last summer, before twin chanceless fifties here.

His second innings was completely unflustered as he serenely swooped to the milestone in 89 balls.

Gubbins laden his equally officious hunt to the target with glittering straight drives and sweeps as he arrived at his fifty in 124 balls – his first time at the landmark since June last year – with his century stand with Middleton coming in 206 balls. Middleton was bowled by Patterson-White with 15 still required. 

To a chorus of boos, tea was farcically taken with the scores level - with the additional 15 minutes already taken up. But the players returned for two deliveries bowled by wicketkeeper Tom Moores before James Vince struck the winning run.

The match had been swung Hampshire’s way with 40-run first innings lead before Kyle Abbott had opened up Notts on the second evening with four wickets – including three scalps coming without a running being scored.

But it was Abbas, who had previously been wicketless and expensive, who destroyed the visitors’ hopes of setting Hampshire a challenging score.

The Pakistani had Tom Moores caught behind with the sixth ball of the morning and, after 22 dot balls to build up pressure, had Olly Stone’s off stump flattened.

Dane Paterson was Abbas’ 100th victim when he nipped one in off the seam to edge behind – giving Ben Brown his eighth catch of the match.

Abbas’ three wickets had come in 21 deliveries. Having arrived in 2021, he is statistically Hampshire’s second-best bowler of all-time – with just West Indian great Andy Roberts bettering his average of 16.43, for bowlers with more than 60 wickets.

In fact, only five bowlers in Hampshire’s history average under 20, and two of them are in the current side, the other being Abbott. There is an argument this is the county’s greatest-ever attack, which adds to the feeling this era warrants a Championship.

Liam Patterson-White had stuck around for 65 balls before he was bowled by Liam Dawson – who spun one out the rough – to bowl Notts out for 177, with only 32 runs added in around 80 morning minutes. It proved far too little of a challenge for the hosts.