Result 'first option' despite rain - Ford
Hampshire 289 for 3 (Vince 118*) v Surrey
History suggests that this rain-ravaged contest between two of the second division's likelier promotion candidates is heading for a dull draw after losing all but 74 of a possible 288 overs across the first three days. But maybe, just maybe, a spirit of adventure, as well as the sun, will come shining through tomorrow.
For that to happen, and the game to turn into anything more than an exercise in bonus-point gathering, the captains of Hampshire and Surrey, Jimmy Adams and Graeme Smith, will need to agree on a target and a double forfeiture of innings.
That may be unlikely, especially at this early stage of the season and with April pace-setters Hampshire having more to lose than the visitors. But at least Surrey's coach, Graham Ford, has offered a glimmer of hope to those spectators planning another visit on Wednesday.
"It's probably too early to say much about tomorrow," Ford said, after a saturated outfield brought about an early afternoon abandonment on day three. "But the result side of things is important because players learn most playing in pressure situations.
"If we end up going through the motions, we might still get quite a bit out of it but there's nothing quite like playing a pressure situation. And if you win a tight game that does wonder for players' confidence. So a result is first option."
So what sort of deal would interest Surrey? "That's something for the captain and myself to chew over," Ford said. "A lot would depend on what kind of target Hampshire are prepared to set us. You can't just say we are definitely going for a result if it's a ridiculous challenge. But if something is realistic we are certainly up for it."
The strong hint from Hampshire is that they are happy to build up the bonus points. And, having batted themselves into a good position after being stuck in, why should they give Surrey a sniff? Fair enough, but if the ball is still doing a enough tomorrow then the temptation to offer a deal - against opponents who were rolled over for just 81 by Glamorgan two games ago - ought at least to be considered.
It is short odds-on, though, that patience will be a necessity for spectators on the final day. And patience is likely to be required by Surrey supporters for much of this season, while Ford and Smith set about rebuilding the club's fortunes.
Nine of the 12 players in the squad for this match came through the county's academy in the recent past - and two of them, Dom Sibley and Tom Curran, are still schoolboys who will sit their A levels in a few weeks.
"Every cricket team I've been involved in wants to win every game but at same time we have to be realistic and appreciate that some of these guys are not quite the finished article," Ford said. "We'll be giving it the best shot we can but looking at it session by session, game by game, rather than where we'll end up at the end of the season.
"Hopefully everyone understands where we are at. Certainly, at the AGM the other day there was a strong feeling of 'We'd rather have a young side improving than an older side that is perhaps past its best'. So, yes, patience is crucial, and then when you get through the hard work hopefully there is a solid base for a bright future."
David Lloyd is a former chief cricket correspondent of PA and the Evening Standard