STEVE HARMISON yesterday questioned the wisdom of staging first-class cricket on club grounds after a torrential downpour rapidly turned Basingstoke’s May’s Bounty into a lake.

Play was instantly abandoned with Hampshire having added 48 in 11 overs without losing a wicket to reach 421 for five.

“Considering the way the ECB are spending fortunes on drainage at most county grounds, you have to ask whether we should be coming to places like this,” said Harmison.

“If this was at the Rose Bowl, we could be playing by 5pm, but here we might not play again.

“Things didn’t get off to a good start for me here when I had my wallet and phone nicked on the first day. I don’t blame Hampshire at all, but it’s the sort of thing that happens at outgrounds.”

Harmison admitted that Durham’s cricket on the first afternoon had been “an embarrassment”

as they conceded 199 runs in the session without taking a wicket.

They weren’t much better when play started at 1.10pm yesterday following morning rain. They had 12 overs to take one wicket for the second bowling point, but will now have only one more over before the bonus points cutoff this morning in which to shift nightwatchman James Tomlinson.

At one stage yesterday he hit three successive balls from Callum Thorp for four, while Harmison was bludgeoned for two successive boundaries by James Vince.

The England Under-19 batsman didn’t need to play at Harmison’s first ten balls of the day and the paceman admitted that the pitch does not suit him.

“It’s a typical, dead club pitch,” he said. “We bowled really well in the first and last sessions on the first day, but in between it was an embarrassment.

We didn’t bowl on one side of the wicket and didn’t hold our catches. If we had we might have had them out for 220.

“It shows our fighting spirit that we managed to pull it back in the last session. We did really well and hoped to come back and finish them off in the morning.”

It never looked like happening, so the storm came as quite a relief for Durham, who will now hope to bat well enough escape with a draw.


Hampshire v Durham
At Basingstoke. Hampshire Won Toss
Overnight: Hampshire 373-5 (M A Carberry
162, M J Lumb 158).

Hampshire First Innings
Rain Stopped Play. Close
J M Vince not out 27
J A Tomlinson not out 31
Extras (b1 lb3 w6 nb6 pens 0)16
Total 5 wkts (109 overs) .......421
Fall: 1-31 2-345 3-346 4-348 5-365
To Bat: D G Cork, M D Bates, D J Balcombe,
D J Briggs.
Bowling: S J Harmison 28-4-106-1. Thorp
19-6-66-2. Stokes 9-2-41-0. Plunkett 14-0-
72-0. Blackwell 17-2-61-1. Borthwick 8-0-
52-0. Benkenstein 14-6-19-1.