Vince, Ervine lead Hampshire through the mist
Hampshire 357 (Vince 144, Ervine 107, Allenby 4-65) v Glamorgan
The first worry on the opening day in Cardiff was that play would not be able to start on time because of the mist. An hour into the opening day, the scene had more than the musk of a Werewolf horror production, with five victims in a grim first hour. After 21 overs, the scoreboard read 53 for 5. The question was asked: "What were they doing out there in the first place?"
Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams won the toss and, on the most September of mornings, decided to bat. It seems in preparation for this match, the visitors noticed the recent trend has been for those batting first to go on and win the game. "It generally tends to deteriorate here," James Vince said at stumps.
Together, he and Sean Ervine were the stars of this particular piece. With centuries to their name, Vince's fourth and Ervine's second of the season, they put on 225 - a new sixth wicket record partnership for Hampshire against Glamorgan, beating the previous record of 198 set in 1922.
Vince's stillness at the crease, through to the point of impact, with his bat coming through in the right time and at all of the right angles, set him apart from the his team-mates. He was consistent in punishing Glamorgan's bowlers for straying from their lengths, particularly Jim Allenby, who was having it all his own way in the morning session.
According to the bods at Opta, Allenby is the 12th player since 1970 to be responsible for at least 10% of his team's runs and wickets for three consecutive seasons. Little surprise, then, that he accounted for four of the five wickets to fall in a frenetic morning session.
Prior to his introduction, Michael Hogan and Graham Wagg had been unlucky not to register a breakthrough, as edges were found without the catching chance that usually follows. With eight overs gone and Hampshire 17 for no loss, Allenby was handed the ball. Six balls later, he handed it back after delivering a double wicket maiden.
He found the first edge that went to hand when Will Smith nicked through to Mark Wallace and then extracted some outrageous bounce off a length that Liam Dawson could do nothing about. Such was the jump off the pitch - Dean Cosker took the catch at gully above his head - that the spot in question earned the attention of Adams and a few Glamorgan players.
The umpires had a gander when Allenby returned for his second brace of wickets in the 21st over; Tom Alsop falling foul of one that reared up this time. A ball later it was five, with Adam Wheater misjudging the line and left a straight one. It was at this point that things turned from feast to famine for Glamorgan.
It was almost as if the pitch, worn out from the morning's festivities, had decided to go to snooze for the middle session. Assistance to the bowler was at a minimum, as 142 unanswered runs were put on. It could have been so different had David Lloyd taken a catch off an uncontrolled hook from Vince, on 47 at the time, just two balls after lunch.
From then on, he ensured he rolled his wrists on anything he took on, while continuing to seemingly hit every bad ball for four (he hit 21, in all). He used his feet well against the left arm spin of Cosker and Kieran Bull's offbreaks, eventually bringing up three figures in 134 balls. Currently, he is the leading runscorer in Championship cricket this summer.
Ervine's was a contrasting knock, but no less worthy of praise. Having witnessed the madness that preceded his arrival at the crease, he got off the mark with a sweetly timed cover drive off Wagg. The very next over saw him send Allenby back over his head and into the stands at the River End. The next ball was hacked at, but disappeared for four through gully.
His half-century was brought up in just 59 balls before he eased off the gas and ensured bonus points targets were met. The next 50 runs for his century took a more subdued 114 balls, but still showcased a deft touch that look at odds with his broad, muscular frame. Watching a man of his stature late cut was like watching a polar bear knitting and it was with this very shot that he sewed up a second century in as many matches.
Soft dismissals for both centurions - Vince falling to a smart catch by debutant Aneurin Donald in the deep, while Ervine was strangled down the legside - triggered a collapse of sorts. The last three wickets fell relatively cheaply, but not before a fourth batting point was achieved. Hampshire's lead over Essex stands at 11.
Meanwhile, with England due to announce the squad for their ODI tour of Sri Lanka tomorrow, it looks like being one without Vince. "I don't think I'll make it," Vince told ESPNcricinfo. "I haven't had a call from the ECB so I'm not expecting to be named in it." For the immediate future, he has highlighted a win and, with Worcestershire up against it at Essex, promotion as champions of Division Two.