Lancashire may never have lost a championship match at The Rose Bowl, but a clever 137-ball century from Sean Ervine today may well have denied them the win they need to stay in the hunt for the County Championship.
While the rest of Division One was stalled by the weather, Lancashire were making amends for lost time, but just when they looked to have pulled themselves back into the game, Ervine nursed the Hampshire tail so well that 50 runs were added for the final wicket, Ervine scoring 44 of them. At the other end, James Tomlinson lasted for 44 minutes, making six, after avoiding becoming a fourth consecutive duck on the Hampshire scorecard when he was dropped at first slip off Oliver Newby.
Tomlinson and Ervine had come together with the score at 287 after Tom Burrows, David Griffiths and Imran Tahir had faced 22 balls between them without adding a run, as Hampshire slipped from 274 for six. Ervine was then on 70, but he wrapped Tomlinson in so much cotton wool that Lancashire managed only 25 deliveries at the No11.
Ervine brought up the 300 with a six over mid-wicket and into the area where a new hotel is planned. In the following over he reverse swept a six into another part of the would-be building site, which – recession permitting – will see the Rose Bowl transformed into a Test ground by 2011. For a moment though, Hampshire's progress appeared to have stalled, Paul Horton diving to his right at first slip to get hands to a sharp chance off Tomlinson which would have given Oliver Newby his first "five for" of the season. However, the ball shook free as Horton fell to earth and Ervine, then on 90, celebrated by lofting a straight four and then easing a cover drive, both off Keedy, to the ropes for a 12th boundary.
His century arrived with a chop to third man for two. He followed that with three muscular boundaries off the unfortunate Newby before an attempted pull off Karl Hogg brought a well-judged catch just inside the long-on boundary for Tom Smith. Ervine's 114 came from 144 deliveries and after the final fireworks there were 15 fours to go with the sixes.
Earlier, when things appeared to be going Lancashire's way, Jimmy Adams got to his second century of the season, adding 25 to his overnight score before he became Newby's third wicket of the morning. James Vince – highly regarded and playing instead of Michael Lumb –and Liam Dawson both went chasing wide deliveries, but Adams was trapped on the crease for 107.
In their reply, Lancashire reached 106 for one at the close, thanks in part to 44 from Smith.