Bragg and North keep contest even
Hampshire 316 and 25 for 0 lead Glamorgan 327 (Bragg 73, North 70, Balcombe 4-91) by 14 runs
A thousand runs before the end of May? In Wales this month the goal has been doubling Glamorgan's solitary bonus batting point. What was more, they achieved three in conditions favouring saturating, stultifying seam-up: a green pitch at West End that had been prepared for their very demise. A true Welshman in Will Bragg and an Australian in Marcus North, brought in specifically to bolster the upper order, were the prime contributors to a total of 327.
As on the first day, considerable concentration and no little fortune were required to make runs on a pitch only marginally less verdant then when the first ball was bowled. David Hughes, the ECB's pitch inspector, returned for a second look, but, in fairness to Nigel Gray, the bounce was even and there was decent carry. "He is a good groundsman," said Hughes, whose main concern on Wednesday was the number of indentations. Groundsmen seemingly are looking to leave more grass on newly cut pitches this season in the hope of gaining greater pace.
Bragg, who came to the wicket when Gareth Rees was held by James Tomlinson in his follow through, playing slightly across the line, made his second half century in successive innings and 73 in all including nine fours. North, with scores of 79 and 21 to his name following his recovery from a broken finger, struck 70 with 12 fours before making a rare misjudgement in leaving alone a ball from David Balcombe that bowled him. He used to play on this ground for Hampshire, if only once, in 2009. Such is the life of an itinerant overseas player.
He batted more freely than Nick James, who, contrary to at least one train of thought here is not the son of Steve James. Still, he can concentrate with similar intensity to the former Glamorgan and England opener, as 15 runs in 28 overs would suggest. In due course Chris Wood had him taken at the wicket by Michael Bates, whereupon Bragg and North, who looked more at ease with the conditions than his fellow Australian left hander, Simon Katich, added 96.
Bragg reached 50 off 97 balls with five fours and a five. Playing within his limitations and coping adequately with the movement, he was eventually beaten by the first ball of a new spell from David Balcombe, edging to Bates. Like Hampshire, Glamorgan are top-heavy with left handers in their upper order, which disrupted the direction of the medium pacers: too many balls were speared down the leg side.
And talking of statistics before May is out, Liam Dawson's catch to account for Ben Wright was his 15th of the season at second slip. A 16th was to follow when Mark Wallace edged Balcombe. Jim Allenby drove Kabir Ali uppishly to midwicket and the tidy Bates took a further catch, this time off Tomlinson, to remove John Glover. By now, though, Glamorgan were approaching a total of 300, which represented riches indeed. They finished with a lead of 11, Dean Cosker contributing an unbeaten 40.
Hampshire were left with eight overs to bat through, albeit in decent light. Dawson, his confidence buoyed by his slip catching - he really is among the best in the country in that position - saw off the new ball and outscored his captain to boot. A match that at the outset, given the grass on the pitch and Glamorgan's poor form, might have lasted no more than two days, is proving to be an excellent contest.