North can't steer Glamorgan home
Hampshire 316 (Ervine 109*, Glover 4-76) and 273 beat Glamorgan 327 (Balcombe 4-91) and 231 by 31 runs
If Glamorgan were ever to win a championship match, it should have been now. Needing 210 on this final day with eight wickets remaining, Marcus North appearing in pugilistic form at the crease to combat a rather one-dimensional attack that lacked a specialist spinner, they fell short. For them, an exasperating result after winning the toss and gaining a first innings lead. For Hampshire, a second victory of the season.
If Glamorgan were to win, then North, with scores of 79, 21 and 70 to his name following his recovery from a broken finger, would have to play another substantial innings. That much was axiomatic.
This became even more pressing a matter when Gareth Rees went leg before to James Tomlinson, aiming to mid on, after adding just four runs to his overnight 17.
North has not had his central contract in Australia renewed and, at 32, is unlikely to play Test cricket again. He has, though, joined Glamorgan at an important time, for never can a county have been more in need of a substantial contribution from an overseas cricketer.
Again he did not let them down, collecting runs all round the wicket and, clearly determining that Liam Dawson's left arm spin was the vulnerable element of Hampshire's attack, he started to pick out the boundary boards.
North struck Dawson for three fours in an over and nothing looked more apparent than that he would reach a century. Yet the very next over he was bowled by a ball from David Balcombe that kept almost as low as the shooter which beat Michael Bates the previous day. North scored his 69 runs off 102 balls with 11 fours and, with his departure, seemingly went Glamorgan's prospects of a first victory of the season.
That appeared even more likely after lunch when Ben Wright, having made 32, was taken by Dawson at second slip off Balcombe, and then, two balls later, Jim Allenby was held by Bates off Tomlinson. This was 168 for 6. Mark Wallace and John Glover, who has had an impressive few days as a result of being given the new ball in the absence of three seamers, fell back on consolidation.
This lasted until the pair had taken the score to 212, 51 runs short of victory. Glover prodded forward at Dawson and was taken at silly point by Simon Katich. Hereabouts Hampshire could have done with Danny Briggs, their leading spin bowler, playing in this match, but they, too, had taken due heed of the grass left on the surface. Still, they captured the important wicket of Wallace in the next over. He flashed at Kabir Ali and edged to the one slip - that man Katich. Then, without addition, Dean Cosker swept at Dawson, ambitiously if not riskily, and was leg before. Kabir finished off the innings by having Mike Reed held at short leg, trying to fend off a short ball.
Credit to Nigel Gray, the head groundsman who evidently knew exactly what he was doing by leaving so much grass on this pitch. It was indistinguishable from the rest of the square at the outset. Had high-class seamers of yesteryear bowled on it on the first morning, goodness knows how many wickets would have fallen. But Gray knew, after all, that this was a second division match.