End-of-term feeling for under par Notts
Hampshire 424 for 4 (Crawley 150*, MacLean 67, Katich 53, Adams 50) v Nottinghamshire
A few weeks ago, this match appeared to offer a mouthwatering finale to the summer. It was potentially a championship decider; billed as the showdown between Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen, it also gave Pietersen the chance to get one over on the county he left last autumn on less than happy terms. But Nottinghamshire wrapped up the competition at Canterbury last weekend and, although Warne was in the Hampshire XI, Pietersen was not, instead placed in mothballs by the ECB.
All that was at stake was Hampshire's bid for second place, but a small and quiet crowd indicated that was not really much to get out of bed for. Nottinghamshire huffed and puffed but rarely got out of second gear, and while Crawley made an unbeaten 150, it was not one of his finest innings. He struggled for most of the first two sessions, and was put down by Darren Bicknell at gully off an oh-so-routine chance when on 28. He timed few shots, and although the drive which brought up his fifty was sublime, it highlighted his general difficulty. To his credit, he continued to battle and after tea finally began to open up and show the class act he remains.
Nottinghamshire, who won the toss and stuck Hampshire in under a leaden sky, struck early when Andy Harris bowled Sean Ervine for 9. But their bowlers lacked consistency, failing to exploit the early moisture in the pitch and offering both James Adams and Simon Katich enough width for them to brutally and repeatedly milk the square cover boundary. There was one more success before lunch. Adams, who had more than compensated for the pedestrian Crawley, gifted his wicket to the persevering Graeme Swann the ball after reaching 50, driving to Jason Gallian at short extra-cover. Two balls later, Swann dropped a caught-and-bowled chance low to his right before Katich had scored. It was an expensive spill.
Katich wasted no time in capitalising, surviving an even easier fumble by substitute Mark Hussey at second slip, before being strangled for 53 down the leg side by 19-year-old Mark Footitt. Footitt, who struggled with his run-up and also persistent no-balling, showed enough fire to leave the impression he is a bowler worth watching, as his inclusion in this winter's National Academy demonstrates.
Paul Franks is another who was one talked of in such terms, but who has had a lean time of late. He took one wicket - Jono MacLean caught by Stephen Fleming at first slip for a breezy 67 - and produced some testing deliveries. But in between, he was plagued by no-balls and also picked up an official warning for running down the wicket - something that would have caused more concern to his own batsmen than the umpire, given that Hampshire have both Warne and Shaun Udal in their ranks. Franks's body language showed that he was ill at ease, as did the expletive which echoed round the empty stands when no-balled for the umpteenth time.
Crawley and Nic Pothas scored at will in the final hour, and Nottinghamshire will have to crank up their act for the remainder of the match if their memorable season is not to end with a thoroughly forgettable performance.
Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo