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Gloucestershire v Hampshire at Southampton

Reports from The Electronic Telegraph

1-4 July 1998

Day 1: Hostile McLean saves Hampshire

By David Green at Southampton

First day of four: Gloucs (91-4) trail Hants (184) by 93 runs

SOME hostile fast bowling by Nixon McLean following a determined innings of 57 from the long-serving Kevan James brought Hampshire back into this match after they had lost their first six wickets for 47.

Hampshire chose to bat on a firm and bare pitch but ran into trouble against the swinging ball. John Stephenson soon thin-edged Courtney Walsh and Paul Whitaker nicked Mike Smith to nick Trainor at second slip.

Jon Lewis replaced Smith, his movement away providing Jack Russell with two more catches to dismiss Robin Smith and Giles White and when Adrian Aymes, recently Hampshire's sheet-anchor, was yorked by Walsh they were 27 for five.

James, missed on 17, and Alex Morris put on a stand of 64, and, when this was followed by some useful hitting by McLean, Hampshire were carried to respectability before Walsh handed No 11 Zac Morris a debut duck.

Gloucestershire's innings began even more poorly, Trainor pushing McLean's first ball to short leg. Stephenson had Tony Wright lbw playing half forward before McLean had Mark Alleyne caught at point off a leading edge.

McLean beat Matt Windows for pace but Tim Hancock, driving powerfully, played confidently and reached his fifty with his eighth boundary just before the close when the game was delicately balanced.

Day 2: Stephenson shows how for Hants

By David Green at Southampton

Second day of four: Hampshire (184 & 156-1) lead Gloucs (176) by 164 runs

HAMPSHIRE took control of this match yesterday, taking the six outstanding Gloucestershire wickets for 85 and then consolidating, with John Stephenson, 87, and Paul Whitaker, 40, putting on 96 in an unbroken second-wicket stand.

A combination of swing and reckless batting had seen 14 wickets fall on Wednesday but Gloucestershire, 91 for four overnight, seemed to have kicked the habit until Tim Hancock, having spent three hours over his 65, departed after an uncertain prod at Alex Morris.

Dominic Hewson battled bravely against Nixon McLean's pace before falling to Stephenson. Thereafter the tail, though making some big hits, folded briskly leaving Hampshire to try again on what has been a flat pitch throughout.

Despite hostile bowling from Courtney Walsh, Stephenson and Giles White confidently put on 60 before the latter pulled Mark Alleyne to midwicket.

Stephenson, meanwhile, never fretted when restrained by tight bowling and fielding. Though Alleyne switched his bowling attack, he could not break the concentration of the Hampshire pair.

Day 3: McLean strikes restore balance

By David Green at Southampton

Third day of four: Gloucs (176 & 83 for 2) need 248 to beat Hampshire (184 & 322)

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, needing 331 for victory after dismissing Hampshire for 322 in their second innings, were given a solid start by Tim Hancock and Nick Trainor but then they lost two wickets just before the close.

Hampshire, 156 for one overnight and very much in the driving seat, lost Paul Whitaker in Courtney Walsh's first over. Walsh's slower ball accounted for Robin Smith's important wicket and when John Stephenson, on 114 after over six hours' batting, top-edged a sweep to square leg and Adrian Aymes and Matthew Keech both fell cheaply, Hampshire were wobbling.

Mike Smith had Alex Morris lbw to reduce them to 241 for eight, but Nixon McLean's rapid 43, which included two huge sixes off Martyn Ball, and sound play from Kevan James, largely restored their fortunes.

Gloucestershire's task, albeit on a true pitch, was a stiff one for a side which has been batting erratically this season, but Hancock and Trainor were untroubled until the 29th over.

At that point McLean, recalled for a final burst, had Hancock athletically caught at slip by Stephenson and four balls later trapped the out-of-form Jack Russell leg before.

Day 4: Hewson turns the tide with timely heroics

By Geoffrey Dean

Final day of four: Hampshire v Gloucestershire

FOR a side who have been badly short of runs this season, Gloucestershire's successful pursuit of a target of 331 was as unexpected as it was heroic. At 173 for six, defeat appeared certain before Dominic Hewson, with a chanceless 78 in four hours, supervised two remarkable partnerships that won the match.

Hewson shored up one end while first Martyn Ball, with a 39-ball fifty, and then Jon Lewis, with some well-struck blows in his 27, helped him add 76 and 74 for the next two wickets in 20 and 14 overs respectively. Lewis fell with eight wanted to a catch at third man, but after Mike Smith had inside-edged Nixon McLean for four, Hewson calmly guided his side to a memorable two-wicket victory with a straight driven four, his ninth, off McLean.

This was a very flat wicket to bat on. McLean tried hard to extract some life out of it, taking four second-innings wickets to give himself eight in the match, but he suffered from lack of support.

Gloucestershire, resuming at 83 for two, lost Mark Alleyne when McLean speared one though his defences to uproot his middle stump. Tony Wright had already gone, aghast at his failure to keep a square drive down off Alex Morris' fast medium.

When Nick Trainor, having reached his first championship fifty for two years, ran himself out after attempting a suicidal single to Robin Smith at extra cover, Gloucestershire looked beaten at 112 for five. But as the ball got older, the middle order began to prosper against bowling of variable quality.

Gloucestershire's bold counter-attack was instigated by Matt Windows before lunch, and although he fell soon after it, Martyn Ball marched in to launch an array of strokes off front and back foot to reach his first fifty this year.

Hampshire, hamstrung by their lack of variation, were showing signs of anxiety when John Stephenson winkled out a now-becalmed Ball, who was bowled off an under-edge. With 82 wanted and only three wickets remaining, Gloucester were underdogs, but the second new ball was unavailable for another 11 overs. By the time it was taken, only 19 more were required.

McLean, who had returned at 306 for seven, was seen off and the runs largely scored at the other end as Jon Lewis, belting Kevan James for six, connected with several big swings at the ball. Hewson duly directed his side to a notable win against the odds.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 05 Jul1998 - 06:21