Jimmy Adams scored his first Specsavers County Championship century of the season as he and Tom Alsop led Hampshire took a commanding position over Yorkshire.
It would be misleading to suggest Adams entertained the crowd — not only was it a rather attritional day’s play, the number of spectators in the ground was poor for a second day running despite it being the longest day of the year — but this was an impressive knock, playing perfectly to the situation of the match.
Adams lost his opening partner, Joe Weatherley, early on and unfurled the occasional drive, with first change Steven Patterson’s first delivery struck beautifully down the ground. In his front-on stance, newly adopted for this season after work over the winter with batting coach Tony Middleton, he was very strong on the offside.
The loss of two wickets in nine balls after lunch — James Vince (35) and Sam Northeast (4) both bowled — prevented him from being particularly expansive, pulling a solitary boundary in 12 overs. Alsop, at the other end, had three from 43 deliveries at one stage, but the pair ultimately put on 177 for the fourth wicket.
But the pink Kookaburra quickly softened once again and despite some tight bowling in the 40 minutes after Northeast’s dismissal, Adams was able to get on top of Yorkshire’s attack and move to a half-century.
It was the tenth time he has passed 50 in first-class cricket against Yorkshire and as the afternoon wore on, his third century against the White Rose became increasingly more inevitable.
At the start of the season, Adams suggested only a season like Kumar Sangakkara’s 2017 (who scored 1,491 Championship runs) would keep him from retiring at the end of the year. While Adams may not be able to repeat Sangakkara’s feat of hundreds against Yorkshire with all three coloured balls, this is a good start to prolonging his career another year.
He cut his 17th boundary to move to three figures, closing the day unbeaten on 132. He currently averages 53.23 against Yorkshire; were he an excitable football supporter, he would probably chant about playing them every week.
Alsop did eventually improve his scoring rate with a 151-ball half-century, although he was given a life on 43 when edging Jack Leaning behind, bowling part-time off-breaks, only for Jonny Tattersall to spill a rising ball. It was a tough chance, but the sort that Yorkshire may come to rue.
This is just Alsop’s second Championship appearance — he was due to play against Surrey last week, but a hamstring injury meant Lewis McManus retained his spot. The injury was of little concern today as he made his way to an unbeaten 62 by stumps. All nine of his boundaries came on the offside, with only a stunning straight drive even flirting near the legside.
Hampshire finished 245-3, with a deficit of just 105, and the third day could be another long one for Yorkshire.
“They bowled with great discipline and we had to try and bat with the same amount,” Adams said. “Scoring was pretty tricky but overall we’re delighted to get through only three down.
“Their plan was to bowl straight, attack off stump as much as they could, and I think they executed that very well. It’s been a good day for us but we’ve got to make it a really good day by having a good morning [tomorrow].”
Yorkshire captain Patterson said: “We felt we tried everything we could. We bowled a bit of spin, rotated the seamers to try and mix it up a bit. But they played well to be fair.
“If we start poorly, they’re going to get level maybe four or five down. Then we’re really up against it.
“But if we come out and start strongly, they’re still 100 or so behind. If we get them five down quickly, there’s no reason why we can’t have them out level or maybe even slightly behind us.”
Earlier, Dale Steyn removed Jack Brooks, edging to second slip while backing away, to claim his first five-wicket-haul in first-class cricket since August 2016 against New Zealand. The South African seamer looked sharp in his four overs today, bowling Brooks a terrific bouncer before dismissing him.
Steyn completed 29 overs in the innings — the last time he bowled so many was against Australia in February 2014; two months before, he bowled 30 overs against India. He departs for South Africa’s July tour of Sri Lanka after the Royal London One-Day Cup final on June 30th, but is expected to return later in the season.
Fidel Edwards and Gareth Berg claimed the other two wickets Hampshire required to bowl Yorkshire out for 350, with the visitors all out 50 balls into the day.