Alex Wharf’s Rain Dance?

When you are chasing a crucial win in a game and the weather intervenes there are a few umpires you don’t want in charge of pitch inspections. In fairness the umpires couldn’t have done much more but we have previous with Alex Wharf….

Hampshire v Somerset, County Championship Group 2, The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, May 6th to 10th 2021, Day 3 Hampshire 79 (Gregory 4-26) and 110-4 (Overton 4-27) trail Somerset 336 (Overton 74, Abell 64) by 147 runs with 6 second innings wickets remaining

I’m guessing most Somerset supporters would have, like me, by mid-afternoon, pretty much given up on the chance of any play on the third day at Southampton.

So it was a huge bonus when we were told that play would resume at 5.30 with a maximum of 16 overs in the day. 

That, for those of us sad enough to remember these things was doubly miraculous when one Mr A Wharf is umpiring. 

Having spent the penultimate day of the 2019 season watching the umpires patiently search the Cooper Associates County Ground for minescule dampness to prevent play in the decider with Essex resuming. A task Mr W carried out with sufficient enthusiastic diligence to ensure Ryan ten Doeschate got his way and the crowd and Sky cameras saw no action.

Realistically the chances of us getting the full allocation of overs in we’re slim given the gloom surrounding the Rose Bowl and the playing condition that insists that if the floodlights become the dominant source of light the umpires have to call a halt. 

Thwarted by the lack of moisture the Wharf lightmeter came to his salvation after only 40 minutes and play was abandoned for the day. 

I’d spent a decent part of the morning on Twitter supporting the view that Craig Overton is the best bowler in County Cricket. Regular readers will know that is an unshakable position as far as I am concerned so was more than happy to take on all-comers in that debate. 

Gratfyingly even the severely curtailed day could not prevent Craig picking up another wicket, his fourth, removing the dangerous Sam Northeast thanks to a stunning catch by newly installed short-leg specialist George Bartlett. 

Given the weather any progress towards bowling Hampshire out today can be seen as a real bonus. 

With Gloucestershire winning at Lords – the only other ground with any play today – Somerset need a win to keep the Bristolians in reach in group 2. 

96 overs 6 wickets and 142 runs lead. Another day 4 of drama and tension or a procession to victory?