HAMPSHIRE’s South African stars produced a Test-class performance to inspire a third win in four games.

Kyle Abbott (6-40) and Dale Steyn (4-34), in his last game of the season for Hampshire, dominated the scorecard, with the former finishing with 11-71, his first ten-wicket match haul for his county.

They bowled out Somerset for 116 before Hampshire chased down the 75 runs they needed to complete a six-wicket victory in just five sessions.

It was like watching a Test highlights package as former England star Marcus Trescothick (50) stood firm for Somerset against a pair of new-ball experts who were opening the bowling together for the Proteas not so long ago.

Veteran opener Trescothick batted for 36.5 overs as nine wickets fell at the other end.

Hampshire were left with a victory target of 75 when Trescothick played on against Steyn, two balls after pulling the fast bowler for his second six to reach a magnificent fifty (he had reached the 26,000-run milestone with his first).

Abbott has taken two first-class ten-fers before - 12-196 and 12-125 for the Dolphins in 2013 and 2014 – but he is currently in the form of his life.

The 30 wickets he has taken in the four matches Hampshire have played since returning to Championship action on August 19 have come at a cost of just 9.83 apiece.

It is hard to believe Abbott is the same bowler that was struggling for rhythm earlier in the season. He followed his first-innings figures of 5-31 with a sensational morning return of 5-29.

Hampshire began day two on 142-9 and had a significant first-innings lead of 42 when Fidel Edwards handed Craig Overton a return catch in the second over of the morning.

Under grey clouds and with the floodlights on, Abbott and Steyn bowled beautifully in tandem.

A vicious Abbott off-cutter soon did for Ben Green. Azhar Ali was his next victim, caught behind via an inside edge after getting in a tangle against a rising delivery outside off stump.

Two balls later, James Hildreth was pinned lbw by another off cutter.
Somerset were then 20-4 when captain Tom Abell was beaten all ends up by Abbott, bowled off stump prodding forward.

All the while, Trescothick stood firm. He added 41 valuable runs with Steven Davies (23), who became the first of Steyn’s four victims, caught at first slip by Ian Holland, after they had ensured that Hampshire would have to bat again.

Abbott had his fifth wicket when he bowled Lewis Gregory with the last ball before lunch, uprooting the middle stump with an inswinger.

At that stage Somerset were 72-6, a lead of 30.

A spectacular one-handed catch by Tom Alsop, diving low to his right, gave Abbott the wicket of Craig Overton two overs into the second session.

Jamie Overton followed in the next over, brilliantly caught low at cover by Liam Dawson.

Bowling wide of the crease to the left-handed Jack Leach, Steyn then hit the stumps via an inside edge.

A tenth-wicket stand of 25 between Trescothick and Josh Davey ensured a tense denouement.

It was not without drama. Trescothick, having been struck on the helmet in attempting to pull a Steyn bouncer when on 24, was successful with his second and third attempts, both of which went for six in the Proteas paceman’s last three overs.

The first followed one of his four fours and the second took him to a 122-ball fifty, before Steyn had his revenge.

It looked as though Trescothick would carry his bat before choping on a Steyn delivery angled across his bows.

The 75-run lead was never going to be straightforward in this most remarkable of matches.

Craig Overton was excellent, but home debutant Oliver Soames departed in unfortunate fashion, caught down the leg side in the sixth over of the final innings.

Perhaps unsettled by a delivery that flew through off a decent length, Weatherley edged behind after poking tentatively outside off stump in Craig Overton’s next over.

More frustrating was Vince’s lack of discipline, the Hampshire captain out for the first pair of his career after attempting an extravagant drive to the third ball he faced. It resulted in a thick edge to Jamie Overton at backward point But after Sam Northeast departed, Jimmy Adams and Tom Alsop guided Hampshire to their target with an unbroken 29-run stand.

Abbott said: “I’ve made a few changes and it has been great. I have got my confidence back and I am so happy off the field which makes a huge difference.

“I feel when I run up that I can take a wicket with every ball and the nice thing is I don’t know whether it will be edged, bowled or and lbw.

“I’ve never picked up four five-fers in three games so it’s been a strange contrasting season as I’ve never felt as bad as I did during the first six games.

“I can’t believe the turnaround. The rhythm I have now is in total contrast, from the top of the run up all the way through.”

Bowling in tandem with Steyn has been a big factor in Abbott rediscovering his mojo.

He continued: “I had a good partnership with Dale when we played Tests for South Africa and it’s been nice to chat with him about those times over the last few weeks.

“To bowl with him is awesome. When we get into a rhythm together from both ends we click and we do well together.

“I actually told him to stop bowling so well he was doing too much with it! He rushes you a lot more than you think as he’s got a flexible wrist and snaps it through which caught a lot of guys out.”

This was the Ageas Bowl’s first two-day finish for 14 years and the first time 40 wickets had fallen there in two days since Hampshire’s move in 2001.

“I haven’t really seen a pitch play like that here,” said Abbott.

“It is unusual because it doesn’t look too different to the pitches we have played on here.

“The wickets have been very strange at this time of the year, for some reason it’s moving around all over the place which is good for me - and not so good for opposition batsmen.”

Somerset were involved in a two-day tie with Lancashire at Taunton last week on a wicket on which 22 wickets fell on day one. It was described as ‘below average verging on poor’ by Lancashire director of cricket Paul Allott.

The ECB pitch liaison officer at the Ageas Bowl was unavailable for comment after the match, but Somerset captain Tom Abell refused to blame the wicket for his side's defeat. 

He said: “It was obviously a tough wicket. They had a world class seam attack and it was always going to be tough.

“I'm not going to complain about the wicket, it's the same for both sides.

“It was a very interesting game. We had a short game last week as well and this game wasn’t too different.

“Full credit to their bowlers, I thought they were outstanding. 

“They asked a lot of questions throughout the game and we weren’t up to it.”

Abell also admitted that the title is now Surrey’s.

“Realistically I think it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to catch Surrey,” he said. They have been outstanding this season.”

Surrey need just four more points to seal their first County Championship title for 16 years after Rory Burns’  unbeaten 103 helped Surrey post 213-6 in reply to Worcestershire’s 336.


Somerset first innings
ME Trescothick c †Alsop b Abbott 13
BGF Green b Holland 26
Azhar Ali lbw b Holland 12
JC Hildreth c Adams b Abbott 10
TB Abell (c) c Holland b Steyn 3
SM Davies † b Abbott 4
L Gregory lbw b Abbott 2
C Overton c †Alsop b Steyn 12
J Overton lbw b Abbott 0
MJ Leach c †Alsop b Steyn 6
JH Davey not out 3
Extras 15 (b 10, lb 5)
TOTAL 106 all out (37 Overs, RR: 2.86)
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (ME Trescothick, 3.3 ov), 2-45 (Azhar Ali, 13.3 ov), 3-64 (BGF Green, 21.1 ov), 4-71 (JC Hildreth, 27.2 ov), 5-71 (TB Abell, 28.3 ov), 6-74 (L Gregory, 29.6 ov), 7-83 (SM Davies, 33.2 ov), 8-83 (J Overton, 33.4 ov), 9-97 (C Overton, 34.6 ov), 10-106 (MJ Leach, 36.6 ov)
Bowling: Steyn 13-1-37-3, Abbott, 10-3-31-5, Holland 8-5-5-2, Edwards 6-0-18-0.

Hampshire first innings 
JJ Weatherley lbw b Gregory 4
OC Soames lbw b Davey 0
JHK Adams c †Davies b Davey 31
JM Vince (c) b Gregory 0
SA Northeast b J Overton 53
TP Alsop † lbw b J Overton 1
IG Holland b J Overton 2
LA Dawson c & b Green 31
KJ Abbott not out 10
DW Steyn b Davey 5
FH Edwards c & b C Overton 8
Extras 3 (lb 1, nb 2)
TOTAL 148 all out (58.4 overs)
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (OC Soames, 1.2 ov), 2-12 (JJ Weatherley, 8.2 ov), 3-12 (JM Vince, 8.4 ov), 4-59 (JHK Adams, 24.5 ov), 5-62 (TP Alsop, 27.5 ov), 6-68 (IG Holland, 29.4 ov), 7-124 (LA Dawson, 45.6 ov), 8-126 (SA Northeast, 52.2 ov), 9-135 (DW Steyn, 53.6 ov), 10-148 (FH Edwards, 58.4 ov)
BOWLING: L Gregory 6-1-12-2, JH Davey 17-5-40-3, C Overton 12.4-2-44-1, J Overton 13-4-22-3, TB Abell 4-1-21-0, BGF Green 6-3-8-1.

Somerset second innings
ME Trescothick b Steyn 50
BGF Green b Abbott 0
Azhar Ali c †Alsop b Abbott 7
JC Hildreth lbw b Abbott 4
TB Abell (c) b Abbott 2
SM Davies † c Holland b Steyn 23
L Gregory b Abbott 5
C Overton c †Alsop b Abbott 6
J Overton c Dawson b Steyn 5
MJ Leach b Steyn 5
JH Davey not out 0
Extras 9 (b 1, lb 8)
TOTAL 116 all out (37 overs)
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (BGF Green, 1.3 ov), 2-8 (Azhar Ali, 3.4 ov), 3-12 (JC Hildreth, 3.6 ov), 4-20 (TB Abell, 7.1 ov), 5-61 (SM Davies, 20.1 ov), 6-72 (L Gregory, 23.3 ov), 7-78 (C Overton, 25.2 ov), 8-83 (J Overton, 26.3 ov), 9-91 (MJ Leach, 30.5 ov), 10-116 (ME Trescothick, 36.6 ov)
BOWLING: DW Steyn 15-4-34-4, KJ Abbott 13-3-40-6, IG Holland 5-1-12-0, FH Edwards 4-0-21-0

Hampshire second innings    
Weatherley c Davies b C Overton 11
OC Soames c Davies b C Overton 6
JHK Adams not out 25         
*JM Vince c J Overton b C Overton 0
S Northeast c Trescothick b J Overton 12
TP Alsop not out 10
Did not bat: IG Holland, LA Dawson, KJ Abbott, DW Steyn, FH Edwards did not bat.
Extras (4 b, 5 lb, 2 nb) 11
Total (4 wickets, 22.5 overs) 75
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Soames, 5.2 ov), 2-21 (Weatherley, 7.3 ov), 3-21 (Vince, 7.6 ov), 4-46 (Northeast, 16.3 ov)
Somerset bowling: Gregory 5- 2-13-0, Davey 2.5-0-10-0, C Overton 8- 2-22-3, J Overton 6-2-12-1, Green 1- 0-9-0

Hampshire won by 6 wickets
Points Hampshire 19 (Bowling 3); Somerset 3 (Bowling 3)
Umpires SJ O’Shaughnessy, AG Wharf