Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hampshire Comment: Glamorgan vs Hampshire

Hants (156 & 204/8) beat Glamorgan (103/9 dec & 256) by 2 wickets at SWALEC stadium, Cardiff.
In sport, winning is everything but Hampshire will know that it would be folly to gloss over the cracks en route to victory in Cardiff this weekend.
Hampshire beat Glamorgan with Hamza Riazuddin scoring the winning runs off the penultimate ball of the match, but one couldn't help feeling that it should have been a lot easier for Hampshire, particularly after a day one in which Hampshire utterly dominated.
A young bowling attack has been assembled at the Ageas Bowl for this summer as the likes of Dominic Cork, Simon Jones and Imran Tahir all moved on. A new attack has been built around the likes of Danny Briggs and David Balcombe, with Riazuddin also being given a chance of first team action.
And this investment in youth has already paid dividends in the opening two games of this season, with Balcombe in particularly fine fettle. He excelled again in Cardiff, taking 5/33 in Glamorgan's first innings as the home side faltered to 103/9 shortly before close on day one.

Chris Wood has been tidy with the ball too, taking 2/25 in the first innings, with Riazuddin and Danny Briggs both picking up a wicket each from their 7 overs bowled.
But it's with the bat that Hampshire have struggled thus far and none more so than captain Jimmy Adams, who scored 3 and 0 in his two innings here. Dawson (32 & 1), Carberry (27 & 13), Katich (9 & 20), and Vince (26 & 28) all managed starts, but it’s apparent that the Hampshire batsmen are taking time to adapt to the damp, overcast conditions and green wickets they have been presented with so far this season.
With Hants bowled out for 156 in their first innings, a lead of just 53, there was a sense that they had let their hosts off the hook, and that became an even more stark reality once Glamorgan batted again.
In the home sides second innings, Stewart Walters and Ben Wright came together with Glamorgan 64/3 - a lead of just 11, and went on to amass a magnificent (given the context of the game) 104, to bring Glamorgan back into the game.
Ben Wright's 104 off 157 balls was a superb effort, particularly in such bowler-friendly conditions, although Hamza Riazuddin felt the Hants bowlers had contributed to his success, stating after play on Saturday that they had bowled too many loose balls to Glamorgan's number 5. Hamza himself impressed with the ball taking 5 wickets in an innings for the first time in his career (5/61)
Glamorgan finished with 256 in their second innings, a lead of 203, and with Hampshire's batting under pressure, Glamorgan had a sniff, more so than they perhaps should have had after their first batting display.
And despite more woes with the bat - Hampshire were 3/2 early on and Michael Carberry batted down the order due to a groin injury - Hants dug in and secured a famous victory.
A fascinating final day was set with Hants requiring 92 runs and Glamorgan 6 wickets, meaning all 3 results were possible. Glamorgan threw their gates open with free entry to all for what promised to be an enthralling couple of hours play.
As it was, the rain curtailed the joy, with play only commencing at 4:15pm. 28 overs remained of the match and without adding a run Hants were 5 down when Michael Bates (13) was given out lbw off the bowling of the impressive Huw Waters.
It was all-rounder Sean Ervine who set up victory for the Royals with a beautifully crafted 75, taking Hants to within 14 of the target. When he fell it was Hamza Riazuddin who struck the winning runs off the final over of the match.
This victory, securing 19 championship points to the Royals to Glamorgan's 3 was a special one, not least because of the time lost to rain in this game made it almost inconceivable that a result would be reached in Cardiff.

It also gets the side up and running early in the campaign after several low yielding seasons in first class cricket. With a young squad and new captain at the helm, the release of pressure on the side following this victory will be immense.
A lot has been made of the young bowling attack and perhaps that had heaped pressure on the batsmen to score big to protect their bowlers. Hopefully this win will show the batsmen they need to coHncentrate more on their own game, because in Balcombe, Wood, Riazuddin and Briggs they have a good, balanced bowling unit that are all take wickets.
And a good performance with the bat at the Ageas Bowl next week against Leicestershire would be the perfect way to follow this victory up as Hampshire look for their first home victory of the season.

Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

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