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Francis century leads Hawks to victory

Hampshire Hawk's dismal season ended on a high note with a exciting 6 wicket victory over the Northamptonshire Steelbacks to bring the curtain down on The Rose Bowl Season

Vic Isaacs
Hampshire Hawks' dismal season ended on a high note with an exciting 6 wicket victory over the Northamptonshire Steelbacks to bring the curtain down on The Rose Bowl Season. John Francis hit his first NUL century to guide his team home.
Robin Smith captaining Hampshire for the last time, after the decision to hand over the reigns to Shane Warne in 2003, lost the toss, and on a sunny afternoon in front of a sizable crowd, the Steelbacks chose to bat first.
Mark Powell and David Sales gave the innings a bright start with a century partnership, after Rob White had been dismissed sky-ing James Tomlinson to Alan Mullally at long leg.
Powell played across a ball from Lawrence Prittipaul to be trapped lbw after hitting four boundaries in his 64, and Sales attempted an extravagant drive to be well caught by Will Kendall over his head. His 93 included a hugh six over long on and 13 fours.
Jeff Cook and Tony Penberthy upped the tempo to post a stiff target of 286 for victory at 6.3 per over.
Robin Smith went early when he drove a widish ball from Carl Greenidge to the wicket-keeper, the Neil Johnson who is still not sure whether he will be with Hampshire next season and John Crawley preparing for the Ashes tour put together 98 well worked runs. On Crawley's dismissal Johnson was joined by John Francis for another useful stand.
When Johnson finally fell to the Steelbacks skipper, the home side were still looking at 8 runs per over. This seemed to hold no fears as Will Kendall joined Francis in an entertaining stand that saw the two youngsters running between the wickets like gazelles, making easy singles into twos and putting the fielders under pressure. Kendall finally lost his wicket for a run-a-ball 31, but his inning was worth far more in terms of partnership of 99.
Francis 100
Francis 100 up
John Francis completed a maiden century to the delight of the crowd who had enjoyed an innings despite the turn of the weather which meant spectators scurrying for coats as the September evening turned cold. He struck 103* in just 83 balls with eight fours and two sixes.
Hampshire retained the 7th spot in Division II, thus guaranteeing a home tie in the 2003 Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Trophy 3rd Round against Sussex.