Friends Provident Round-Up - May 4th 2008

South-West Division Taunton: Somerset 202 lost to Glamorgan 221-7 by 19 runs Somerset were chasing three in a row in the competition, but in the end Glamorgan closed out a second win in a week following their impressive Championship victory over Gloucestershire in Bristol. Batting first, they posted 221 for seven, which didn't seem to be enough and they owed much to 95 from captain David Hemp. They soon made amends with their bowling, Alex Wharf taking three for 42 and Jamie Dalrymple three for 47 to bowl Somerset out for 202. Ian Blackwell hit 42 from 36 balls before Steffen Jones (42) shared in a stand worth 39 for the final wicket with Charl Willoughby to make things tighter than they might have been. The Rose Bowl: Hampshire 242-5 beat Gloucestershire 350-5 by five wickets (D/L) This enthralling match match was a real treat for those spectators that braved the mixed weather and waited for over an hour for the resumption of play after a rain delay. The fortunes of the local football team, Southampton, may have taken a few supporters away but a very healthy crowd were treated to a superb game that ebbed and flowed and could have been won by either side. After failing to defend 280 two days previously to another west country team, Somerset, stand-in Captain Nic Pothas’ decision to chase looked like being another tall order as Alex Gidman (105) and Hamish Marshall (64) set about the depleted home attack on another very good Rose Bowl wicket. Crisp shot-making and clean hitting was the order of the day and some fantastic cameos from Chris Spearman (23 off 18 balls), Marcus North (85 off 73) and Chris Taylor (53 off 23) increased the run-rate via 12 fours and seven sixes. Intelligent running between the wickets also added to the frustration for the Hampshire bowlers, who stuck to their task. Wickets though, were collected with mis-cued drives and clean catching. This allowed the occasional respite and opportunity to peg back the Gloucestershire advance. However, Hampshire’s lack of bowling options, due to the absence of club captain Mascarenhas, playing in the IPL and injured fast bowler Bond, allowed the Gloucestershire batsmen to reach a formidable total of 350-5 from their allotted 50 overs. Steady rain caused an hour’s delay before Hampshire started their reply. Whilst all ears were on the radios to discover the eventual successful plight of the game at St. Marys, all eyes were on the Hampshire batsmen who set about the more experienced Gloucestershire bowling attack. The readjusted total of 240 was required from 30 overs and the two Michaels, Lumb and Carberry produced the perfect start by delivering some quality drives and pulls to the boundary. Lumb was looking ominous when a misjudged run to mid-off saw his dismissal for 30 off 25 balls from a direct hit. Carberry was joined, and left, by Kevin Pietersen and Sean Ervine who were dismissed for 24 and 15 respectively, again just as they were looking dangerous. However, it was the England star's amazing dismissal to a catch over his shoulder (and over the ropes, by Fisher) which initiated an astonishing fifth-wicket partnership of 98 in 9 overs between captain Pothas and Man-of-the-Match Chris Benham that put them into a position win the game. Pothas was at his best. Having kept well earlier, he then showed why he has been touted as a possible England keeper-batsman. He adding clever running to outrageous improvisation with the bat, including an-angled lift over the Gloucestershire wicket-keeper for a one-bounce boundary at fine leg, off a full-pitch no-ball. His dismissal for 43 of 32 balls had accompanied Benham’s own brutal assault on the bowling. His 54 off 27 balls included four 4s and 3 huge 6s, much to the delight of the home crowd. A leg-side boundary first ball by new batsman Greg Lamb (four not out) left Benham to finish in style. Much to the delight of both sets of fans, the game could have gone either way and the total was finally achieved with three balls to spare, to spark double Hampshire celebrations as the Saints also avoided the drop. A mention should go to Gloucestershire’s fielding which was always of a high class and included good team-work to support sliding boundary fielders. Overall four more direct hits brought umpire referrals although like the outcome, none were successful, as Hampshire opened their Friends Provident account for 2008.