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David Lloyd at the Ageas Bowl
May 26, 2013
Lancashire 295 (Agathangelou 121, Balcombe 5-104) and 373 for 6 dec. (Croft 101*, Cross 100) drew with Hampshire 258 (Bailey 84, Dawson 55, Chapple 5-55)
There are many worse ways to spend a sunny Sunday, of course, but after teasing onlookers into believing that all results were just about possible by the close last night, this game between two of the second division's promotion favourites turned into the dullest of stalemates.
Fortunately for county cricket, it is watched, in the main, by folk who are long on patience. But if there were any first-time spectators here today then goodness knows what they made of an exercise in pointlessness for all but Steven Croft and Gareth Cross, who scored their first Championship centuries of the season.
Actually, that's not quite fair. Points were the whole point of it. Lancashire, sitting joint second in the table after this draw, remain 10 points ahead of Hampshire, an advantage which could be crucial come the end of the season. Had they pressed for a victory by declaring and lost, a gamble might have looked reckless to the Old Trafford faithful.
But surely a token effort to win could have been made through the visitors giving themselves perhaps 40 overs to capture 10 wickets while denying Hampshire even a sniff of success? Instead, they batted on and on until hands were shaken, spectators were woken from their slumbers and everyone went home.
Lancashire have a bit of previous on this ground. Seven years ago, at the end of a season and with nothing at stake, the then home captain, Shane Warne, was furious that the Red Rose declined to make a game of it - and he demonstrated his displeasure by bowling bouncers.
This time, the only on-field retort came from occasional bowler Michael Carberry, who was tossed the ball and invited to go through a series of impressions which looked to include Makhaya Ntini and Alex Tudor.
But the real villain of the piece was the weather which shortened the contest by 88 overs. And had it not been for some exciting action on the third day, no-one would have dreamed of a positive result being even remotely possible.
Lancashire looked to be taking firm control when Glen Chapple struck four times in the space of six balls. Then the balance of power shifted sharply in Hampshire's favour as they grabbed three quick wickets following George Bailey's excellent counterattack.
The best hope of a riveting contest today rested with Hampshire making regular inroads once Lancashire resumed, 100 runs ahead, on 63 for 3. But their successes were too few and too far between, although Sean Ervine did try to force the issue during a lively spell that included several sharp bouncers and he was rewarded with the wickets of Andrea Agathangelou and Karl Brown.
Therafter, Lancashire made serene progress without ever suggesting they were interested in a declaration. Cross will no doubt take confidence from his first century for two years but most other people will be happy to forget the final chapter of this match.
"With us being three down overnight Hampshire fancied bowling us out and we had to bat long enough to make it safe," Lancashire coach Peter Moores said. "We had to fight pretty hard for two thirds of the day and then it was not the sort of pitch we were going to bowl them out on in 40 overs."
Moores also mentioned time lost to bad weather - a point accepted by Hampshire's captain. "It's a bit frustrating but losing a day to rain made it tricky," Jimmy Adams said. "I think both sides were fairly optimistic we could have a good final day's cricket but unfortunately it didn't pan out that way."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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