<
>

Myburgh, Hildreth add to Hampshire's pain

Hampshire 219 (Adams 61, Overton 5-42) and 18 for 1 trail Somerset 474 for 8 dec (Hildreth 152, Myburgh 110, McLaren 5-104) by 237 runs
Scorecard

As Johann Myburgh's chanceless hundred put Somerset firmly in control, Hampshire would be forgiven for looking on with envy at a former batsman. Myburgh played six matches for them in 2011 before being released, but such are the batting riches of Somerset that he is only playing because of an injury to Tom Abell. Hampshire's spluttering batting and fast-imploding season could desperately do with a batsman of his ilk.

This was a day which Hampshire spent the majority of it in the field, their batting ineptitude of the first day keenly felt as Somerset scored runs that Hampshire should have scored on an excellent batting pitch.

Myburgh, 35-years of age, and playing his first Championship match of the season, displayed the game and hunger for runs that has been conspicuously absent from Hampshire's batting for most of this season.

The simplicity of Myburgh's innings will have galled Hampshire's onlooking fielders. He played just nine scoring shots on the leg-side and from the foundation of a strong defensive technique and beautifully soft hands he was able to compile a hundred which punished Hampshire's batting collapse of the previous day and will surely have left them wishing they could go back and do it the Myburgh way.

The James Hildreth way would also be worth imitating, although it would be a more demanding task. Hildreth is a beautiful batsman to watch with a wonderful range of shots. Owner of one of the best cover drives in county cricket he almost never looks rushed and today, although the intensity of the contest slowly diminished like air leaving a balloon, it was hard to imagine he could have played much better.

Particularly impressive was his shimmering footwork to the spin of Mason Crane and Liam Dawson, from which he scored 61 off 51 and 24 off 23 respectively. Hildreth's 152 elevates his season average to 72.10.

Given that he is yet to be given a chance in an England shirt there is something almost quite sad about Hildreth continuing to plunder runs in Division One of the County Championship. Rarely can a player of such class not have played for his country, but it seems unlikely, albeit possibly unfair in the eyes of some, that England, moving on from one 30-something county veteran in Nick Compton and filled with the zest of a brave new era, will turn to another to plug the gap. Hildreth's time one senses, for better or for worse, may well have passed.

Hampshire's performance with the ball was lacklustre. Admittedly, they began the day from a position of considerable weakness, but they lacked intensity in the field and although they kept persevering and picked up wickets throughout the day, there was not a single passage of play when they got on top of Somerset.

Ryan McClaren bowled a useful spell after tea, taking two wickets in as many overs with the help of a seaming ball and finished with 5 for 104, and Crane too showed glimpses of his potential, but bowled too many loose balls and failed to maintain any pressure.

When Somerset finally declared after some lusty lower-order hitting by Craig Overton and Ryan Davies it was tempting to think that Hampshire had been put out of their misery. As it was things were to get worse as Jimmy Adams chopped onto his stumps to leave Hampshire 18 for 1 at the close and trailing by an enormous 237 runs.

Rain is forecast on both day three and day four but given the struggles of Hampshire's batting of late it may not take much play for Somerset to force a result. Hampshire may find themselves looking even more enviously towards Myburgh by the time this match is done.