Hampshire v Somerset, County Championship, Rose Bowl August 20, 2008

Lumb gives Hampshire cause for hope

John Ward at The Rose Bowl

Somerset 41 for 0 (Trescothick 19*, Suppiah 22*) trail Hampshire 316 (Lumb 107, Ervine 69, Willoughby 3-86) by 275 runs

A fine fighting century by Michael Lumb boosted what would have been a rather poor Hampshire total on another rain-spoiled day at the Rose Bowl. Thanks to his determination, the match appears to be quite well balanced, although Somerset were making a positive reply when the weather intervened again.

Hampshire, 113 for 4 overnight, made a steady start to the day, with Lumb taking 15 minutes to score the single he needed for his 50. He chopped Andy Caddick for four between slip and gully to bring up that landmark, and most of his runs early on came in that direction, by intent or otherwise. He often looked insecure, but commendably battled his way onward, gradually increasing the range of his shots to include the covers, and then the wider field.

After surviving a couple of close lbw appeals Liam Dawson, Lumb's overnight partner, eventually fell that way for 17, the fourth batsman to do the hard work and then fall in the teens. His replacement, Sean Ervine, took a long time to get off the mark, which he eventually achieved with a desperate and ferocious lash to midwicket for four. For a while this was virtually his only scoring stroke, but, like Lumb, once he had settled he widened his range and batted with steadily increasing competence.

Caddick took the second new ball for the over immediately before lunch, with Lumb on 95. The batsman drove him handsomely straight for fourand then a little more awkwardly for two, to reach three figures off 198 balls. He clearly didn't consider his work over after lunch and looked intent on playing a major innings, but then, coming forward defensively to Caddick, he edged a ball moving away from him to the keeper. His 107 showed great character and was of inestimable value to his team, the only one of the top order to succeed.

Meanwhile, Ervine was batting with much more confidence, showing the class that had made him an international player for Zimbabwe at 18, in the days when they had a reasonable side. He pulled the short balls fiercely and played some authoritative drives as he raced on to 50 off 79 balls. He had 69 on the board when he slashed at a ball from Alfonso Thomas and was very well caught low to his left by Marcus Trescothick at second slip. Minutes later the same fielder pulled an even better catch out of almost nowhere, diving far to his right this time to remove David Balcombe for 4.

The remaining runs came mainly from Dimitri Mascarenhas, who produced no real fireworks but still hit an aggressive and valuable 41 before being lbw to Ian Blackwell, who tied down one end with his left-arm spin. When Charl Willoughby bowled James Tomlinson, the innings closed for 316; Hampshire would doubtless have been happy to settle for that at the start of play.

Trescothick opened for Somerset, and hit the first ball, from Tomlinson, neatly wide of mid-on for a classic four. Somerset continued to make good progress for as long as they were able - which was not long, as the weather, which had been quite pleasant for most of the day, closed in and bad light and rain took over. After the first break, with seven overs bowled, Hampshire turned to Imran Tahir for his leg spin, but the players were only on for this over before the light was again adjudged to have worsened. After a while, they came on for two more overs before a light drizzle started, so it was all rather farcical at this point.

It soon became clear as the rain slowly increased that no further play would be possible, but the umpires took a long time before officially declaring the patient dead. After two truncated days, a result in this match seems rather unlikely, especially with more rain forecast - but cricket in England is played in hope, however misplaced.