Batting collapses again as Northants slump to defeat at title-chasing Hampshire

Josh Cobb made 22 as Northants were bowled out for 221 to lose by an innings and four runsJosh Cobb made 22 as Northants were bowled out for 221 to lose by an innings and four runs
Josh Cobb made 22 as Northants were bowled out for 221 to lose by an innings and four runs
Keith Barker and Mohammad Abbas sent Hampshire to the top of LV= Insurance County Championship Division One as they beat the rain to thrash outclassed Northamptonshire by an innings and four runs on Thursday.

Northants, who started the day on 153 for three, were bowled out for 221 in 70.3 overs, having at one point been 98 without loss late on day three.

There were 20s for Josh Cobb and Ricardo Vasconcelos, but the resistance from the Northants camp was minimal as they slipped to a third defeat of the season.

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Indeed, all seven wickets on day four fell in the space of just 27 overs played between rain delays, with the final wicket falling just before the Ageas Bowl was hit with a deluge.

Barker moved to 49 wickets for the season as he took three for 63, to go with another three-for in the first innings, while Pakistan fast-bowler Abbas celebrated four for 32.

Hampshire, who took full points from the match to lead Surrey by eight points at the summit, took the wickets they needed in quick time after the morning had been washed out and the elements taken them off in the afternoon.

Hampshire were facing the last day without Kyle Abbott, the leading wicket-taker in Division One, with a lower leg injury, suffered the previous evening.

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James Fuller had joked that Hampshire players would go and help the groundstaff with “towels and sponges” to assist with the dry-up, having already seen 90 overs lost over the first three days. The ever-popular Aneurin Donald took this literally as he manned a broom to sweep water off the covers.

His, and Simon Lee’s usual crew’s, efforts were rewarded with a 1:30pm start, with 59 scheduled overs.

Barker thanked them after 12 balls by striking Rob Keogh in front with a ball that stayed low.

That was a theme and something Josh Cobb tried to negate the risk of being pinned by moving outside his off-stump.

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It saved him the first time off Abbas but the second time he didn’t slide far enough across and departed.

Cobb would not have been too happy with the bizarre situation around his wicket.

He and Ricardo Vasconcelos had almost walked over the boundary rope in drizzle before being ushered back, only for the clouds to burst immediately after the finger was raised.

The umpires announced a restart time of 3:30pm, but that news was greeted with more covers being put on, as dark clouds pushed rapidly overhead in heavy winds.

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This was received with jeers and moans from the Hampshire balcony.

However, play did start on time, now with 33.5 overs planned and after Northamptonshire bowling coach Chris Liddle had inspected the pitch, and 13 balls into the action the sixth wicket fell.

Abbas bowled back of a length and found subtle away movement off the pitch to find James Sales driving to first slip.

After a period of playing and missing, Vasconcelos swivelled Barker for six before a straight drive took the deficit under 20. But a ball later the Portuguese-passported batter was hit on the back pad by Barker and given out for 20.

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Abbas then grabbed a quick-fire double. Tom Taylor was brilliantly caught behind by Donald off his inside edge and Ben Sanderson’s off stump took a tumble as the ball straightened.

The rain started to hammer down again but Fuller refused to allow Mother Nature to win as he castled Jack White sensationally to claim the win and bowl the visitors out for 221.

If he had failed to take the delivery the game would almost certainly have been a draw such was the force of the rainfall.