Hampshire v Lancashire, Ageas Bowl, 1st day May 23, 2013

Agathangelou heroics lift Lancashire

David Lloyd at the Ageas Bowl

Lancashire 252 for 9 (Agathangelou 93*, Procter 53, Balcombe 5-92) v Hampshire

There is not much Andrea Agathangelou can't do on a cricket field, it would seem. Capable of bowling off-spinners as well as leg-breaks, he can keep wicket if required, catch flies in the slip cordon and bat anywhere in the top order. But that's not all.

The 23-year-old, who was born in South Africa and has a Cypriot father who once ran the 100 metres in an Olympic qualifying time, is a more than competent squash, rugby and hockey player. Oh, and he has competed in biathlons.

Had it not been for a nasty, pre-match injury to Simon Katich, though, Agathangelou would have spent his time here buzzing around on nothing more challenging than 12th man duties. Instead, he stepped forward at short notice to move within seven runs of what would be a terrific maiden Championship century while preventing Lancashire's innings from being blown away completely by a resurgent David Balcombe.

Having joined the Red Rose county on a scholarship in 2010, Agathangelou has a record that includes a stack of runs in South African provincial cricket. But he has had to bide his time at Old Trafford, despite creating a good impression in the second XI, and he made only three Championship appearances last summer with a top score of 24.

On today's evidence, plenty more first team outings will follow. Joining the action with the visitors 95 for 3, he lost partners at regular intervals as Lancashire threatened to fall short of 200 for the third consecutive first innings. While one batsman after another fell to outside edges, though, Agathangelou used the middle of his blade to excellent effect.

Driving and cutting with great conviction, he reached 50 with the help of a pulled six off James Vince, then kept his composure when the end looked nigh at 182 for 8.

With Glen Chapple, as handy a No 10 as you could wish for, lending stout assistance, 43 precious runs were added. Then Simon Kerrigan took over the supporting role and when rain finally called a halt 12 overs early Agathangelou was well within dreaming distance of three figures.

Not that Katich knew much about developments. Having looked forward to playing against his old county, the Australian suffered a nasty blow to the side of his head while batting in the nets less than an hour before start of play and was taken to hospital in a groggy state.

Kept in Southampton General for several hours while undergoing tests, Katich was eventually allowed to return to the team hotel where he was later told, no doubt, that his stand-in had played a fine hand.

Batting seldom looked an entirely straightforward occupation on a green-tinged pitch that offered enough sideways movement - as well as occasional extra bounce - to keep the pace bowlers interested. Not that bowling, or fielding, was a bowl of cherries, either, thanks to a blustery and bitingly cold wind that prompted Sean Ervine to wear a woolly hat while standing at slip after lunch.

Perhaps the unpleasant conditions were at least partly responsible for Balcombe's nightmare start with the new ball. After three legitimate deliveries of his opening over, he had gone for 21 and was on course for some kind of ghastly record.

Balcombe, though, pulled his act together to claim one of the more unlikely five-fors, James Tomlinson drilled a consistently good line and Hampshire, defying cold hands to hold most of their catches, would have been in complete control but for Agathangelou.

"It was very unfortunate that Simon got hit but, having been given the chance to play, I'm just pleased I was able to take that chance," said Lancashire's star man. "It has been going well for me in the second XI and it felt really good out there today."

Having hit 14 fours as well as that six off Vince, and faced 156 balls, two or three more solid blows would take him to his century. "Fingers crossed," said Agathangelou, who believes he will complete his England qualification period at the end of this year.