Hampshire 219 and 173 for 4 (Alsop 53, Gregory 3-26) trail Somerset 474 for 8 dec by 82 runs
There was a heavy sense of sadness about this, the flattest of days, at the Ageas Bowl. Played out in front of a smattering of barely 100 people, a crowd described by one seasoned journalist as the smallest he had seen here for at least a decade; bottom of the table, relegation-threatened Hampshire battled and blocked, nudged and nurdled and waited for the forecasted rain to fall.
It is at times like these that a club needs its senior players. In Michael Carberry, Hampshire have one who stood up better than most to some of the fastest bowling in history when Mitchell Johnson ripped England apart in the 2013-14 Ashes. Shortly after that, perhaps harshly, Carberry's international career came to an end and Dale Benkenstein, the Hampshire coach, revealed it has not been an easy adjustment for Carberry to make. This season season his average hovers around the mid-20s.
As part of Hampshire's attempt to re-motivate Carberry they have shifted him down the order to No. 4 to give him a new challenge and the management will have been pleased with the fight he showed, closing on an unbeaten 37, alongside Sean Ervine in a 52-run stand before play was halted.
"We are trying to find some motivation for Carbs," explained Benkenstein. "I think it's tough when you don't have England anymore. You just lose your oxygen. When you've had one thing as your goal and suddenly it goes, and you've never really thought about anything else - you've always wanted to play for England. I've seen that with a few senior players in my career as captain."
"Physically and skill-wise he could play for many more years, but at this level you have got to have a real hunger to play. Especially as a batsman you have to have that hunger for runs because you are getting a year older and guys are getting faster and better and they have ambition to play for England and you tend to see guys drop off quite quickly."
"We've found he is actually playing quite well but keeps getting out," Benkenstein said of the move to bat him down the order. "The new ball is always tough in England and we thought maybe it's a chance to free him up a bit and take him away from the new ball. Just changing his role gives him a bit of a mini-challenge and we are hoping that stimulates him."
Hampshire will hope Carberry can flourish in the second half of the season. Play began under a warming sun, but as the day wore on, the clouds thickened and darkened and like the looming threat of Hampshire's relegation, they slowly closed in.
When, at 3.18pm the umpires decided the light was too bad for play to continue Ervine and Carberry could hardly have left the pitch much quicker. Less than five minutes later it started to rain and the players never returned.
More rain is forecast tomorrow and Hampshire could well escape this match with a draw but having been hoping for rain since mid-afternoon on day one, it will be with a heavy heart that they make the five hour drive to Chester-le-Street on Saturday.
This pitch has been very slow, too slow to produce particularly intriguing cricket, and without the blanket of dark clouds under which they bowled on the first day, Somerset must have felt what it was like to bowl several overs in Hampshire's shoes on day two as the hosts fought admirably against some accurate bowling.
Unlike Somerset's batsmen however, Hampshire's were unable to convert strong starts into significant scores. All three of the wickets to fall were self-inflicted.
Tom Alsop was the first to go when shortly before lunch he was caught at second slip having tried to cut a ball from Peter Trego that was too straight to do so to and angling in further still. Alsop's wicket ended a stoic partnership of 89 - tellingly Hampshire's best second-wicket stand of the season.
That Alsop received a generous reception from Hampshire's members for his 53 when he finally reached the pavilion, head bowed, bat hanging limply by his side and dragging along the turf, is perhaps emblematic of the club's readjusted expectations. A good effort it was, but ultimately not good enough.
After the interval Will Smith dragged on to Lewis Gregory and when Liam Dawson's limp push outside off stump ended up in the hands of second slip there was a possibility Hampshire were not even going to beat the rain, let alone Somerset.
After an hour of thick, miserly rain, with darkness enveloping the ground and puddles forming on the covers, the floodlights were unceremoniously switched off. Ten minutes after that, with the ground practically deserted but for a lone member of the ground staff, the PA system echoed around the stadium confirming to no one but the assembled press that play had been abandoned.
And with that the lonely groundsman trudged across the outfield and disappeared into the bowels of the stadium, the only sound he left behind him was the gentle patter of rain on the covers as a melancholy day crept slowly towards its end.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket