With The Ageas Bowl usually offering little for bowlers, with England’s chairman of selectors James Whitaker watching on, and with Keaton Jennings soon to fail again, Haseeb Hameed might well have thought he had the perfect opportunity to earn a Test recall.
He certainly looked like he was playing Test cricket: thirty minutes passed before his first run, and he made six just by the hour mark.
That was, however, all he made. Having batted without feeling the pressure of the slowly ticking scoreboard, he tried driving a very wide one from Fidel Edwards and succeeded only in edging to second slip.
Indeed, the Southampton wicket was not as lifeless as it has been throughout the season – far from it; it is quick and offered plenty of turn and bounce for the spinners.
Lancashire’s choice to bat, upon winning a contested toss, might have been the wrong one, although there were few demons in the pitch – the batsmen were culpable for many of their wickets, a lack of resilience perhaps an issue.
Only Alex Davies looked set and comfortable, driving nicely and finding the boundary regularly. He top-scored with 36 before edging Liam Dawson to first slip, adding just five to his tally after James Vince dropped him at second slip.
Dawson picked up just the one wicket in his 17 over spell but might have had more, Gareth Berg shelling a difficult chance at cover off Jos Buttler.
Mason Crane took three wickets, including two in two balls to end the innings, with the pair of tweakers finding plenty of assistance from the Northern End.
His first over was poor, too short and loose, and his seventh ball wasn’t great but found Ryan McLaren’s leading edge for a caught and bowled.
Jordan Clark hit successive boundaries off Crane but subsequently edged a cut behind for 20, with Matt Parkinson edging a forward defence to first slip the following ball. Lancashire were all out for 149.
James Vince was the pick of the Hampshire batsmen in the evening’s 38 overs. He made his way to 40 in typical James Vince style, driving elegantly and looking to be positive. But that was his downfall, as he top-edged a pull that fell down to midwicket.
His side had appeared in a spot of bother when he strode to the middle, having lost both openers within the first nine overs, despite a strong start. 21 came from the opening four overs – only one single – but two quick wickets left Hampshire needing stability.
Jimmy Adams swished at a wide one from McLaren and was caught behind, before Lewis McManus got a good ball outside off from Kyle Jarvis and edged to the slips.
Sean Ervine, included at three in place of the injured Rilee Rossouw, built a good partnership with Vince worth 61 but chased a wide ball from Jarvis and edged behind for 21. Captain George Bailey made a run more before edging 20-year-old legspinner Parkinson to slip.
Dawson (20*) and Ian Holland (13*) negated a testing final eight overs as the hosts trail by two heading into the second day. The likelihood of this reaching a fourth day already seems remote but the match is poised only slightly in Hampshire’s favour.
“[It’s definitely not a 150 pitch,” said Davies at the close of play. “I think we’ll be a little bit disappointed with the way we batted. We fought back well with the ball but probably gave them a little bit more than what we would have wanted.”
Crane concurred: “I don’t think it did anything outrageous. I wouldn’t have looked at it at the start and said it was a 15 wicket day but we thought we bowled really well and we deserved all ten, and I think they bowled quite well as well.”
Hampshire’s seamers had plugged away from the Pavilion End in tandem with the spinners, with scalps shared around. Holland had Kyle Jarvis caught behind before lunch and, immediately after it, Kyle Abbott bowled a beautiful spell, picking up Liam Livingstone lbw trying to clip to leg.
Buttler was beaten for pace by Edwards and bowled, but not before he ran out Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the West Indian looking every bit ten days short of 43 years of age and unable to make his ground for a quick single; Crane with the direct hit from backward point.
An odd moment, just before Crane’s double, saw Gareth Berg hurt himself after a routine piece of fielding at midwicket, prompting treatment from the physio. He was ultimately fine, came on to bowl the next over and picked up Stephen Parry’s wicket the following over.