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Coles' career-best has Hampshire wanting more
AS Matt Coles celebrated his maiden ten-wicket haul in the LV County Championship, he did not look like a man who was playing for Hampshire for the last time.
There was a valedictory guard of honour for Hampshire legend Trevor Jesty as he left a cricket field for the final time as a first-class umpire.
But Coles was heading in the opposite direction to Jesty when he launched himself into a full-length swallow dive towards his new teammates, having completed a comfortable Hampshire win against Essex by bowling Monty Panesar.
“I said to the lads when I got the ninth to give me a bit of room at the back end of the wicket so I could give it the Klinsmann - it was an enjoyable moment!” he laughed.
It did not look like a farewell gesture. It showed how much Coles has enjoyed his five matches with Hampshire and suggested he will be back for more next season.
If he does sign on a permanent basis, Coles will provide that extra yard of pace as well as the aggression that has been missing from Hampshire’s attack this year.
He is also someone who clearly enjoys playing cricket, an infectious attitude helped by the back-to-back wins he has inspired with 15 wickets at just 15.3 apiece.
Coles followed his 5-75 at Leicestershire last week with a career-best 10-154 to secure Hampshire victory by an innings and 31 runs.
His 6-71 in Essex’s first innings was the best return by a seam bowler at the Ageas Bowl all season, while his second-innings haul of 4-83 prompted the celebrations.
“I didn’t think I was going to get there, luckily I did in the end but more importantly we bowled consistently well as a team and got the win," he said.
“Tomo probably deserved his fifth wicket more than I deserved my tenth!”
Even so, James Tomlinson’s 4-63 took him to a haul of 53 Championship wickets for the season – and past the career milestone of 300 first-class wickets.
He has benefited from a new grip in recent matches, as well as having Coles at the other end.
Coles did not have it all his own way yesterday. He was struck for two sixes by Graham Napier, including a cut over cover, during the Essex all-rounder’s 60-ball 53. But Hampshire’s fourth win of the season was inevitable. It ensured they bookended their season with wins by an innings and lifted them into fourth place, equalling last year's final place but with a higher points tally.
Supporters of Michael Bates will point to the fact that he took five catches in the second innings after Adam Wheater scored his maiden match-winning Hampshire hundred as a specialist batsman, fittingly against his former Essex teammates.
But the arrival of Coles has made the biggest difference in recent weeks and Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams is “fairly hopeful” he will make his move permanent.
“He’s a character who plays hard, a very talented cricketer who would be a huge asset for us,” said Adams.
“It makes life a bit more uncomfortable for opposition batters when you have someone with that aggression and we saw that - he’s been excellent in the last two games.”
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