|Bob Willis Trophy, Arundel Castle (day three):|
|Surrey 172: Evans 65; Holland 6-60|
|Hampshire 198-3: Northeast 81, Alsop 52*|
|Hampshire (3 pts) lead Surrey (1 pt) by 26 runs|
Sam Northeast reached his 77th first-class half-century with a no-fuss innings as Hampshire went past Surrey’s first innings score at Arundel.
Stand-in captain Northeast looked serene for his second Bob Willis Trophy fifty as he reached 81, following a 121-run stand with third-wicket partner Tom Alsop, who ended the day unbeaten on 52.
Surrey had earlier been bowled out for 172 and ended the day in arrears of 26, as Hampshire reached 198-3.
Following two days where a combined 40 overs were able to be bowled due to rain, both sides were further frustrated by a wet outfield, particularly the run-up areas, which prevented any play in the morning session.
Blue skies, punctuated by the odd non-threatening cloud, created a postcard-ready vista at the ever-pleasant Arundel Castle Ground – where Hampshire are playing their home red-ball matches this season due to England’s use of the Ageas Bowl – when the action finally arrived.
Hampshire needed two Surrey wickets, but were forced to wait as Morne Morkel wielded his bat for some vital tailender runs.
The South African, who flew in from Australia last week to join up with Surrey, battered seven boundaries in his 33 from 25 balls.
Leg spinner Mason Crane put an end to the fun though when he pinned him lbw, before rounding off the innings by having Amar Virdi stumped by a lightning-quick Lewis McManus.
Crane celebrated figures of 2-8, while Holland returned career-best figures of 6-60 despite going wicketless on day three.
The early stages of Hampshire’s reply were the antithesis of Surrey’s approach – with the hosts hoping to only bat once in the match and force an innings victory.
Felix Organ, Joe Weatherley and Alsop took a cautious approach, where Surrey had flailed the bat much sooner – albeit in much less swing to have to negate.
Organ was lucky to survive a fiery opening over from former South Africa international Morkel.
Morkel found bounce to take the 22-year-old’s outside edge, but Ryan Patel shelled the chance to his right at second slip.
Organ smoked two boundaries on the drive off Matt Dunn, but fell when he was bowled leaving a Gus Atkinson in-ducker.
In-form Weatherley, who scored 98 and 64 not out in the victory over Middlesex last week, started slowly but took a particular shine to Patel – who he eased to three boundaries.
He looked on course to repeat his heroics at Radlett but fell lbw to Virdi on the cusp of tea.
When Northeast was left out of England’s 55-man training squad earlier this summer he bemoaned a lack of opportunity to prove the selectors wrong.
Northeast’s classy array of backfoot drives, legside flicks and dabs down to third man were all on show and proved a man in form.
He needed 82 balls to reach a chanceless half-century, on a ground he scored a century on his only previous appearance – in a Second XI fixture for Kent against Sussex in 2012.
While Northeast played shot-maker, Alsop sat like a sentinel at the other end. The left-hander had only scored eight in the 50-run stand with Weatherley, and provided a similar backbone for Northeast.
Alsop has been given the opportunity to make the number three spot his own for the long-term this season, having seen McManus become first-choice wicketkeeper over the last 12 months.
The trust in his batting has returned starts of 21 and 27 so far in the Bob Willis Trophy, but he kicked on to reach a gritty 128 ball 50.
He lost Northeast, lbw to one which kept low from Virdi, who had switched from the Park to the Castle End and Harry Came survived 18 balls to stumps.
Hampshire captain Sam Northeast:
“We are going to go into the last day with a chance of winning and, if we have a good morning, we can set up a game.
“It would have been nice to get a hundred but it wasn’t to be. After the first game we all looked at ourselves and I was in too high of a tempo but I’ve just come down a few gears.
“Tom’s got a couple of starts in the last couple of games and not gone on which has left him frustrated but he really grew into his knock. It was a really mature innings.”
Surrey fast bowler Morne Morkel:
“It was fantastic to be back. That was my first outing for six months. I was a bit nervous. Nothing compares to time in the middle.
“We stuck with it. The two heavy rollers have changed the conditions on the pitch. And there is a lot of hard work to do in the morning.
“I was a bit lucky with a couple flying through the slips but it was nice to get a handy partnership at the end. The most important thing is to not look too far ahead.”
Match report supplied by PA Media.