Captain Vince leads the way as Hants CCC triumph
Hampshire County Cricket skipper James Vince stroked a 207 ball 231 as Liam Dawson and Tom Alsop contributed to a huge win over Leicestershire but the event was slightly overshadowed by a stumping controversy surrounding keeper Lewis McManus.
Winning the toss this early in the season can be a bit of a lottery due to the fact that pitches can be largely unreadable and conditions even more so. 120 overs later and 612 runs later, Hampshire skipper Vince was vindicated in his decision to bat first.
A strong start for Hampshire
Openers Joe Weatherly and Ian Holland tucked into some loose Leicestershire bowling early, dispatching half volleys to the off side boundary with consummate ease. It wasn’t to last. Ian Holland edged the experienced Chris Wright behind and Weatherly soon repeated the trick to Gavin Griffiths.
This brought Tom Alsop and Sam Northeast to the crease and they put on a partnership of 52, Alsop the aggressor.
If Leicestershire thought their third wicket would bring better fortunes then Vince fairly quickly proved them wrong as he got into his stride.
All the signature Vince shots were there. Clinical off-side strokes and brutal pull shots quickly saw the Leicestershire bowlers shoulders slump. 70 balls later and Vince had reached 85, with Alsop for support he could play the aggressor.
— Hampshire Cricket (@hantscricket) April 9, 2021
By the end of day one Hampshire had racked up 431 with Alsop and Vince unbeaten on individual tonnes. Day two saw no let up for Leicestershire as Vince continued as if there had been no overnight break, hardly breaking stride as he reached his double century.
Meanwhile Liam Dawson had brought up his own century at better than a run a ball in his first match since August 2019.
Hampshire County Cricket Club declaration
With Hampshire declared on a quickfire 612, Leicestershire were already staring down the barrel and would not have welcomed the sight of Kyle Abbott and Mohammad Abbas with the new ball, being two of the best seam bowlers in the world. Abbott claimed three wickets and Abbas one, going at less than two runs per over. Any semblance of a Leicestershire fightback was quickly dispelled as Mason Crane returned to remove the tail alongside Brad Wheal.
Leicestershire would follow on. It wasn’t a much better start as Abbott nicked off Evans after just seven overs.
Then came the controversy
Hassan Azad was stumped by McManus from the bowling of Dawson. This would not normally be cause for concern, except on a second viewing it looked rather bizarre. McManus had removed the bails, but not with the ball in hand. Whilst appealing for a catch, he had whipped the bails off with the hand not holding the ball.
This incident has, as usual, courted some controversy on Twitter and rightly so. It was not however the blatant act of cheating that some seem to think, but rather some poor dishonesty. If McManus had simply admitted the mistake and recalled Azad then there would be no issue. The question must be asked of the umpire. If not called, then is this really any worse than a batsman nicking behind and not walking?
Victory was wrapped up with a little more resistance as Abbas and Abbott shared 6 wickets with Brad Wheal. Mason Crane was expensive but struck frequently, picking up three wickets for his troubles.
Hampshire County Cricket Club were one of the pre-tournament favourites and this game will have done little to damage their chances. Whilst they will face sterner tests than Leicestershire this season, Vince and Dawson hitting form with the bowling attack getting rhythm makes them a dangerous proposition.
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