By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET’S winning start to the new County Championship came unstuck at the second time of asking as they were trashed by rivals Surrey Cricket at the Kia Oval, losing by an innings and seventeen runs as the home seamers dismantled the batters to wrap up a dominant victory in three days. It was a hugely disappointing result and performance for the title favourites led by James Vince in spring London sunshine; coming full circle following their innings victory over Somerset at the Ageas Bowl last week.
Surrey lost the toss and were forced to bat first on a green pitch, starting well with a steady partnership of thirty-nine runs against the new ball; Ian Holland dismissing Rory Burns for 21 runs as the England opener edged to Liam Dawson just after the first hour. This wicket brought Hashim Amla to the crease and the South African survived a LBW appeal before solidifying with Ryan Patel to prevent a cluster of dismissals; the pair reaching lunch untroubled with the score on 83-1 after some lovely shots from the duo looking in control.
Runs started to come quicker for Surrey with the ball softening; Patel reaching his half century before pulling a short ball into the hands of Mohammed Abbas for 58 to give James Fuller a wicket in just his second delivery; leaving the hosts on 119-2. English batsman Ollie Pope was the new batter and he joined together with Amla in a brilliant partnership that saw individual half centuries reached just before the tea interval; Surrey recording their first batting point in the afternoon session with the surface offering little for Hampshire.
But the away bowlers got their reward for accurate bowling just thirty minutes into the evening session as Holland claimed his second wicket, dismissing Amla for seventy-three as he feathered a shot behind the stumps to bring Ben Foakes to the crease, Hampshire looking for inroads and bonus bowling points as the new ball loomed. However they were brilliantly thwarted by the English international pair as Pope continued to keep the scoreboard ticking; reaching his century late on day one as the hosts reached 312-3 at the close.
The duo made a steady start to day two as they batted steadily for an hour, adding 28 runs and securing a fourth batting point before Foakes was dismissed for forty-five chopping onto his stumps off a Kyle Abbott delivery. Pope then followed his teammate back to the pavilion five overs later off Keith Barker to end a knock of 127 runs, before the bowler trapped Jamie Smith LBW to restrict Surrey on 364-6 with the run rate slowing; Jordan Clark joining Will Jacks at the crease before lunch as the visitors didn’t get a second point.
Although Abbott took two wickets in the form of Clark (14) and Jamie Overton (5) with Barker dismissing Kumar Roach (3) to leave Surrey on 419-9, Hampshire were unable to stop a brilliant counter-attack by Jacks who looked in blistering form with the bat. He scored six fours and four sixes in his innings of 72 from eighty four deliveries; helping his side reach 467-9 before he was pinned LBW by Barker to end the home innings after 143 overs of hard fought bowling from the visitors on a batting surface under the sunshine.
In response Hampshire made a disappointing start as Joe Weatherley was dismissed by a Clark yorker in just the second over of play; Nick Gubbins coming to the crease to hit two successive boundaries in a fast paced start alongside opening batsman Holland in a partnership that saw the score reach 48-1 off six overs. Then a collapse began as Overton dismissed Gubbins and Dawson, sandwiching the wicket of James Vince to leave the visitors on 52-4; which was soon 83-5 after resistance that ended when Holland was out LBW.
Felix Organ joined Ben Brown at the crease in the final hour of day two, the latter taking control of the partnership as he looked for his maiden Hampshire half-century; a quest that was ended on 49 runs as the batsman was bowled by Jacks, who also dismissed Organ (12) to leave the visitors on 132-7. All rounders Barker and Fuller survived the final spell before bad light suspended the day’s play at 6:15pm; Surrey taking two bowling points during the evening session and were in real control of the league match with 2 days left.
Day three began with the Hampshire tail fighting back against the Surrey bowlers with an hour of quickfire runs, Barker reaching his fifty and a bowling point for 200 runs with two successive sixes off Jacks. Fuller furthermore added 41 runs to take the visitors to 222-7 off fifty-five overs, before a blast by Overton dismissed both batsmen with the wicket of Abbott sandwiching the end of good resistance; the bowler finishing with 5-54 in the first innings. These three wickets left Hampshire on 223 all out and facing arrears of 244 runs, Surrey asking them to follow on in response with victory in their sights on a livelier pitch surface.
Batting again Surrey made early breakthroughs with Holland (8) caught by Pope and Gubbins (8) edging behind the stumps into the gloves of Foakes, but were frustrated by resistance from Weatherley and Vince as they reached 46-2 at lunch following a tricky second hour of batting. This partnership continued into the afternoon session at more than five an over as Weatherley looked in good touch following last week’s century versus Somerset; reaching his 50 with a boundary as Surrey bowlers began to feel the pressure.
But the home players needn’t have worried as Weatherley was dismissed for 87 runs shortly after a check for concussion due to a helmet bounce, edging through to Foakes who pulled off a stunning catch to reduce Hampshire to 141-3 after a long partnership with Vince at the crease; Overton making the breakthrough one hour before tea. Dawson (3) was quickly sent back to the pavilion by the same bowler before the end of Vince for 57 runs handed the visitors a big blow before tea with the scores on 181-5 after another run flurry.
Brown continued to resist the Surrey attack, who were one short throughout day three due to an injury to Roach, dragging his side towards 200 and then parity despite the dismissal of Barker to become Taylor’s third wicket. But although the batman was unbeaten with thirty runs, he lost partners down the other end as Clark clean bowled both Fuller (12) and Abbott for his second duck of the day. The last wicket to fall was Abbas as he edged Clark’s delivery to slip for 0, confirming Hampshire’s loss with 15 overs left on day three.
This innings defeat sees Hampshire take just two points from this encounter and sit in third place within the County Championship Standings with one win / one defeat so far; Surrey and Essex now in the top two after other resents from round two. Hampshire will seek to quickly recover when they travel to Kent on Thursday (April 21) with the match in Canterbury due to start at 11am, before hosting Lancashire and Gloucestershire at the Ageas Bowl either side of the May Bank Holiday weekend as this long cricketing summer takes shape.
PICTURED BY CHARLES A COLLYMORE: Hampshire bowler slowly trudges back after another wicketless delivery as Surrey dominate proceedings in an Oval innings victory with the visitors struggling throughout.