Hampshire struggle despite Balcombe's eight
Hampshire 182 for 7 (Katich 74) trial Gloucestershire 314 (Dent 114, Balcombe 8-71) by 132 runs
David Balcombe, by dint of good, honest seam-up, and Michael Bates, who has quite a future in the game if he can make some runs to supplement his undoubted talent as a wicketkeeper, represent Hampshire's future. No matter, for the time being, that they are performing in Division Two. One took career best figures of 8 for 71 and the other six catches without a scintilla of fuss.
Gloucestershire, who eked out 314 runs, were greatly reliant on Chris Dent, their 21 year-old opener who made the second century and highest score of his brief career to date. Rather like Bates and Balcombe, his cricket is a throwback to the past: he does not look a man for Twenty20. Rather, he worked the ball around the square in the manner of many a dogged left hander before him, his innings of 114 including 16 fours. All his runs could be said to have been collected.
Dent had resumed in partnership with Ian Cockbain, who reached 64 before he was taken by Bates off Balcombe. Other than Ed Young contributing 39, Dent had to hold the innings together, which he managed until he was eighth out, held at the wicket off Chris Wood.
The ground itself had dried out markedly well after the downpour on Thursday evening, but there was still moisture in the pitch for Balcombe, who maintained a disciplined line and the correct length to ensure the batsmen stayed on the front foot. He did well for Kent on loan last year and there was speculation that he might have stayed at Canterbury.
In support was a slip cordon featuring Sean Ervine taking a neat catch to account for Will Gidman and a wicketkeeper who has progressed, with Danny Briggs, through Hampshire's junior sides since he was ten years old and has had the benefit of specialist coaching from Bobby Parks. Bates, like most of his ilk, will go for catches in front of first slip, as once he did spectacularly now.
This had, no doubt, been a good toss for Hampshire to have won. Conditions had eased somewhat by the time they batted - or maybe it was simply that they did not have to bat against Balcombe - and although Jimmy Adams soon went, taken low at second slip by Dent off Will Gidman, and Michael Carberry ran himself out in a mid-pitch mix-up with Liam Dawson, there was still little reason why somebody should not make a score of note.
That individual, once Dawson had gone to a catch at second slip off Ian Saxelby, was Simon Katich. Perhaps it was no surprise that he, too, was a left hander of similar concentration and shot selection to Dent. Missed at second slip on 68 off Gidman, he twice ventured to drive over mid-off but otherwise mainly was faithful to the fundamentals of his game. The nudge, the nurdle, the no-nonsense putting away of the bad ball.
When he was eventually caught at third man, Katich had contributed 74 with ten fours and a six. Gloucestershire finished the day with a lead of 132, an achievement in itself given that Balcombe's figures were the best by any bowler on this ground, surpassing Alan Mullally's 8 for 90 for Hampshire against Warwickshire in 2001. And in those early days on what was hitherto scrubland, there really was lateral movement of note.