THE sight of Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc warming up on the Headingley outfield yesterday was one to gladden the hearts of Yorkshire’s supporters.
Starc has finally arrived in this country after complications with his visa that made one wonder whether he might have been better off trying to smuggle his way in on the back of a lorry.
The 22-year-old left-arm bowler was forced to fly all the way home to attend to paperwork irregularities after he was initially deported from Heathrow.
Yorkshire deemed it too much to expect him to play in this game after 14 flights in a 12-day period during which he also returned from Australia’s tour of the West Indies.
But while Starc acclimatises to life in England, with a view to debuting in Sunday’s CB40 match against Derbyshire, his team-mates could have been forgiven for wishing they had him available to play here as well.
Yorkshire have not been at their best with the ball in this match, Hampshire totalling 427 after winning the toss.
On a second day when 37 overs were lost to rain, with Headingley choked beneath sorrowful skies, the visitors lifted their score from 352-5 as Simon Katich extended his overnight 180 to 196 before falling to Adil Rashid.
The visitors reduced Yorkshire to 100-3 by stumps, Phil Jaques (59) and Gary Ballance (26), the heroes of Bristol, guiding their team to within 178 of avoiding the follow-on and making the most of some moments of fortune.
Yorkshire’s bowling was mixed at best, with Hampshire recovering strongly from 83-4 in the opening session of the match on Wednesday before losing a flurry of wickets near the end of their innings.
The new-ball attack of Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Patterson were excellent at times; less so the back-up seam of Iain Wardlaw and Anthony McGrath and the leg-spin of Rashid.
Whereas Sidebottom and Patterson returned combined figures of 4-165 from 51 overs, Wardlaw and McGrath managed a joint 1-124 from 28 overs, while Rashid – although statistically the best bowler with 3-86 from 24 overs – had his figures massaged to a large extent by the wickets of tail-enders Kabir Ali and James Tomlinson.
Early-season conditions have failed to suit him, but Rashid has yet to contribute significantly this year, having managed 89 runs in five-and-a-bit Championship games at 22 and eight wickets at 44, averages that would look pretty good if they were the other way round.
Play did not start yesterday until 2.30pm after a morning blighted by persistent light rain.
Michael Bates, the Hampshire wicketkeeper, was quickly to his century after resuming on 88.
Bates raised the milestone with a steer through third-man off Patterson, his 19th boundary from his 155th ball.
It was a composed performance by the 21-year-old, who showed an eye for the pull stroke and some pleasant drives.
Perhaps the elation of having achieved his maiden Championship century was still on his mind when he perished moments later, run-out following a mix-up with Katich. Bates seemed slow to react when his partner drove Patterson back down the pitch, Gale running round from mid-off to throw to wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy with the batsman comfortably out of his ground.
Bates’s dismissal ended a stand of 170 with Katich, Hampshire’s joint-highest for the sixth-wicket against Yorkshire equalling that of Phil Mead and Gerald Harrison at Southampton way back in 1914.
Possibly unsettled by Bates’s departure, Katich missed out on a double hundred that was there for the taking.
The Australian was defeated in the flight by one of Rashid’s better deliveries, which he top-edged to Joe Root at mid-on while attempting to sweep.
Hampshire fell to 395-8 when Chris Wood got a leading edge to Root at cover off Patterson, who then missed a chance to give Yorkshire a third and final bowling point when he spilled Kabir off Rashid just nine balls away from the 110-over cut-off.
In fairness to Patterson, it was a difficult catch, with the pace bowler having to run backwards as the ball swirled high above his shoulder at mid-on.
From Rashid’s next delivery, Kabir cut crisply for four to raise the Hampshire 400 and a fifth and final batting point.
Kabir did not linger, caught at deep mid-off by Wardlaw off Rashid, who then had Tomlinson held by McGrath at deep mid-wicket to end the Hampshire innings.
Yorkshire’s reply began disastrously when Adam Lyth shouldered arms to the fifth ball and was lbw to Kabir.
Root edged David Balcombe to second slip before Yorkshire slid to 32-3 when Gale was brilliantly run-out for a duck by Michael Carberry, who swooped at cover after Jaques searched for a single off Wood.
Jaques and Ballance steadied nerves with an unbroken stand of 68, but Hampshire have control of the game.