Rain slays Steelbacks’ Southampton sojourn

Graeme White picked up the crucial wicket of half centurion Sean Terry
Graeme White picked up the crucial wicket of half centurion Sean Terry
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The weather ruined the day as only half of Northamptonshire Steelbacks’ Royal London Cup encounter with Hampshire was completed.

The forecast precipitation duly arrived during the interval and no more play was possible under the Ageas Bowl floodlights.

It was tough on the visitors who had served up a solid effort with the ball to restrict the hosts to a gettable score and it leaves them in the position of having to win, in all likelihood, at least three of their four remaining games which start with a trip to Leicestershire on Sunday.

On an afternoon that started out fine, having chosen to have first use, the hosts began cagily as the ploy of combining Matt Spriegel’s off-spin with one of the opening bowlers enabled a few inexpensive overs to be delivered.

When Spriegel was removed from the attack to be replaced by Andrew Hall it looked an unwise move as Michael Carberry took him for a quartet of boundaries but it was Hall who had the last laugh as Carberry dragged him to deep midwicket before the powerplay was concluded.

Sean Terry, who had been badly dropped by Hall off Maurice Chambers with just a single to his name, and Jimmy Adams were chugging along nicely until the latter aimed a leg-side waft at Muhammad Azharullah and was hit in front.

A similar passage of play followed with Will Smith replacing Adams and the pair moved the score on to 125-2 as the innings neared the halfway point.

A six off Graeme White took Terry to a well-made half century but a couple of balls later he threw his wicket away as he picked out long-off.

There is a certain skill is scoring fluently in the middle overs when the boundaries can dry up and Smith was proving very effective as, with only two fours, he got to 50 from just two deliveries more.

As is often the case, however, the second powerplay proved to be a stumbling block as Hampshire completely lost their way.

Just 20 runs were added for the loss of three wickets, including both Smith and the dangerous Sean Ervine, and once the fielding restrictions were relaxed, a strong foundation had become a distinctly average one.

Azharullah, as good today as he was dreadful against Yorkshire on Tuesday, went on to claim 5-38 as any late surge was restricted with the innings coming to a close on 249 with eight balls unused.

And then the elements intervened.