North key to Glamorgan's chase
Glamorgan 327 and 53 for 2 need 210 more runs to beat Hampshire 316 and 273 (Adams 72)
This should make for an unexpectedly cracking finish. For Glamorgan, having not gained a Championship victory thus far this season and having amassed just 21 points before this match, the final day's play could well define their season. They need a further 210 to win, eight wickets intact. A victory, with Marcus North now in their side and bowlers to return following injury, could kick start their summer. Another defeat and they will remain well below the salt in the hierarchy of county cricket.
If they are to win this match, in all probability North will have to play another significant innings. He is quite clearly their leading batsman. Needing 263 to win, Glamorgan lost Nick James, caught at third slip fencing at Kabir Ali, and Will Bragg, held at second slip off James Tomlinson. There is still some assistance for the quicker bowlers, although the initial rather sickly lime-green appearance has been discoloured by wear and indentations, and, as Kabir and David Balcombe demonstrated in extending Hampshire's second innings to 273, having been 225 for 8, runs can be made all the way down an order.
Hampshire had resumed on this third day with an 11-run lead and all wickets intact. Jimmy Adams played the significant innings of the morning, reaching a half century with eight fours in his characteristically undemonstrative way. His value to his county will probably not be properly appreciated until after he has retired. He had lost his opening partner, Liam Dawson, caught off a glove as he made to hook Will Owen, and then Michael Carberry, who pulled Jim Allenby to long leg where Owen himself took a good, tumbling catch.
Simon Katich, outshone by North, his fellow Australian left hander, prodded forward at John Glover and edged to Mark Wallace: 124 for 3. Another innings of substance was required and this was forthcoming from James Vince, who has been short of runs this season.
The constant comparisons with Michael Vaughan do not seem to have done anything for his game, yet now, he drove crisply in partnership with Adams, who had made 72 by the time he played on to John Glover, and Sean Ervine, who was run out by James from midwicket.
Michael Bates was bowled for a duck by a shooter from Mike Reed, one of few balls that have been truly unplayable, and Chris Wood edged Allenby to second slip. That was 210 for 7. When Vince was taken at the wicket, also off Allenby, having made 48, his highest score of the season, Hampshire appeared notably short of runs. Some competent hitting from Kabir Ali (25) and Balcombe (26) enabled them to reach a competitive total.
It was as well for Vince that he did make runs, for during the day's play Hampshire announced they were signing Bilal Shafayat on a one-year contract. He impressed the club when scoring 93 for them in his first match against Derbyshire two weeks ago, but then, even when he was batting with Kevin Pietersen in their Nottinghamshire days, he always looked impressive. "Rolling stone Bilal is ready to settle again," read one headline, and, given he is only 27 and presumably not yet at his peak, this might just prove an inspired signing. Better than one or two South Africans Hampshire have gone for in the recent past.
"I think I am a better player now," he said. Last season he was playing league cricket in Birmingham. "I didn't know when my chance would come but I knew one day it would, whether it was this year, next year or in two years."