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Ivo Tennant at the Ageas Bowl
April 25, 2013
Worcestershire 159 for 5 (Moeen 55) trail Hampshire 500 for 9 (Adams 219*, Carberry 62, Vince 52) by 341 runs
While Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, was affixing the last bolt to the framework that will support a 175-bedroom hotel at the Northern End of the Ageas Bowl, the grand view afforded of the middle was of his captain completing the third double-century of his career. A measure of Jimmy Adams' dominance was that his unbeaten 219 was the highest score by a Hampshire captain since Dick Moore made 316 against Warwickshire at Bournemouth in 1937.
Many captains have come and gone since then. One or two of them, such as Roy Marshall and Richard Gilliat, have been better batsmen, but none can have concentrated so determinedly. There was no difference in the tempo of Adams' innings from the first session of this match on Wednesday - and there was no greater likelihood that Worcestershire would take his wicket.
Indeed, all that was in question was whether Adams would surpass the highest score of his career, an unbeaten 262 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 2006. After Chris Wood had gone, having added 96 with the captain, David Balcombe and Danny Briggs did not remain at the crease for long enough to encourage Adams, who had struck 29 fours, to continue batting. A declaration at 500 for 9 left Worcestershire already facing a job to avoid the follow-on.
To judge by the way they had batted against Glamorgan in their last fixture, that would constitute an ambition of sorts. Not that there was anything in the pitch for the quicker bowlers, or Briggs, or Moeen Ali, whose offspin had brought him four wickets without any discernible indication of turn.
Still, Worcestershire laboured. Daryl Mitchell was nicely taken low down to his left by Liam Dawson at second slip, Matt Pardoe was caught at midwicket, the shot a loose one. Thilan Samaraweera hung his bat out and only edged into Sean Ervine's midriff. Alexei Kervezee flicked to gully. This was the upshot of steady, saturating seam-up; nothing more. The quicker bowlers shared the five wickets to fall.
Still, Moeen remained, all wristy flicks and cover drives that seemed to persuade the ball to the boundary. At least, he remained until he had reached a half-century, whereupon he too flicked a catch to the slip cordon: another dismissal that could have been avoided. Worcestershire are, of course, missing Vikram Solanki; they are deserving of some sympathy for losing players to Surrey through an unattractive form of transfer market. The harsh reality, though, is that they are 341 runs behind and require 192 to avoid the follow on.
Rupert Kyrle, the Mayor of Eastleigh Borough Council, which is funding the £32m hotel here, had left the ground by now; Bransgrove and his delegation had completed their tour of what will become a four star Hilton, with some bedrooms facing the cricket and others looking out at the proposed 18-hole golf course at the back. It will open next April. Chris Huhne, formerly the local MP, may or may not be invited to the gala opening but rest assured that Sir Ian Botham, Bransgrove's friend, will be on the guest list.
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