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Blow for Jack as match ends in draw

Jack Leach’s hopes of facing Pakistan were dashed by injury, whilst James Vince pressed his case for England selection as Hampshire salvaged a draw from the Specsavers County Championship match against Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Vince, unbeaten on 63 in a score of 178 for two overnight, went on to make 201 not out in a marathon vigil to help his side to 432 for four and a draw. Hashim Amla made 107 and Rilee Rossouw an unbeaten 65.

The hosts were hit by the loss of Leach before the start of play. He suffered a broken thumb whilst batting in the nets on the outfield.

It was wretched luck for the 26-year-old left-arm spinner, who made his Test debut in New Zealand during the winter and would have been very much in the England selectors’ minds for the two Tests against Pakistan. The squad for the first Test is due to be announced tomorrow.

Amla began the day on 86 with his team 97 runs behind, and he progressed to his second century of the season off 177 balls, with 15 fours. He helped take the score to 233 – a stand of 194 with Vince – before edging a ball from Lewis Gregory to wicketkeeper Steve Davies.

Vince reined himself in to reach his own hundred off 277 deliveries, with 13 boundaries, by which time he had batted for five hours and 24 minutes, making it the slowest century in the Championship this season.

Vince lost another partner with the total on 256 as Tom Alsop, on 12, pushed forward to Tim Groenewald and edged to James Hildreth at first slip.

Somerset had taken the new ball with the total on 210, but it soon became apparent that the pitch was not going to assist seam or spin, while the swing evident over the first two days was absent under clear blue skies.

There was little or no turn for England Lions off-spinner Dom Bess and by lunch Hampshire were 260 for four, just 15 runs behind.

Somerset’s seamers managed to beat the bats of Vince and Rossouw a few times after lunch without finding an edge and, as the sun continued to beat down, it became tough work for all the bowlers.

Vince went to 200 in the final session off 434 balls, having extended his boundary count to 28. By the time the players shook hands at 4.50pm, he had battled away for more than eight and a half hours, his longest ever Championship innings.

Following the draw Somerset claimed 13 points, while Hampshire took nine.

At the end of the match Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “I’ve got mixed emotions really. Obviously I’m frustrated but Hampshire, especially James Vince and Hashim Amla, played brilliantly. However, the way that our guys took to the task throughout the day was outstanding and there is no way that they could have given any more.

“I thought we bowled well and backed it up in the field and the attitude was outstanding. The guys applied themselves brilliantly but didn’t get the rewards that we deserved.

“I’m delighted with the way that the season has gone for us so far and I’ve just said to the lads. I feel that we are getting better game by game. As I’ve said from the start, it’s about trying to out-skill the opposition whatever surface you are on. It’s about playing the better cricket over the four days and I feel that we are going in the right direction.”

Regarding Jack Leach’s broken thumb, Jason said: “I was slinging the ball at Jack this morning and unfortunately one bounced a little more than usual and hit his thumb. Jack will be dilligent in his rehab and will do all he can to make sure he is ready at the right time. The key thing for me is that Jack is really optimistic that he will do all the right things.

“He’s had a lot of challenges in his short career already and he will deal with this in the right way. Hopefully he will be back sooner rather than later.”

For the match scorecard click here

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