Hampshire versus Middlesex, 3rd September 1978
Hampshire won both their county Championships at Dean Park and in 1978 they went on to add the second of their three Sunday League trophy wins there as well. In the weeks since the match at Cheltenham, covered in another post, they had defeated Kent at Southampton, but lost at Northampton, so when Gordon Greenidge and Richard Gilliat walked out to bat in front of a large and optimistic crowd, a win and a Somerset loss was needed.
Their opponents that day were a Middlesex team who were (joint) Champions the year before and who boasted an array of Test players in their ranks. The Hampshire opening pair again got off to a fine start, sharing a stand of a 100 against a bowling attack that included Wayne Daniel and Mike Selvey, Phil Edmonds and John Embury, before two wickets fell quickly. Trevor Jesty, who also had a fine match, then made 47 in another century partnership with Gordon Greenidge as the innings finished on 221-4, a good score, if not more than a good score, at that time. For the Middlesex spin twins it was not the easiest of afternoons, although the scorecard did record three catches by Phil Edmonds.
Three years before on the same ground Barry Richards played an outstanding innings in the penultimate game of Hampshire’s successful Sunday campaign that year; of which it could be said that it anticipated rather the way the game would be played in the T20 era. Gordon Greenidge made 122 in this match, and played the sort of innings, 5 sixes…. those that were one bounce into the hedge and those that went straight over it….that was to become more common decades later in a game played with a different attitude, and with different sized bats; markers of two great players.
The Middlesex reply started well with Clive Radley and Norman Featherstone putting on 76, then with Graham Barlow at the crease the second wicket pair reduced the required runs to under 100 in the evening sunshine. The balance of the game swung again as Trevor Jesty, well backed up in the field and helped by a brilliant catch by David Rock, removed the visitors’ middle order, and, with the game slipping from them, three run outs followed. The Middlesex innings eventually subsided to 195 all out.
As was the norm for such occasions then a pitch invasion followed, as did quite a wait for the result at Taunton. In 1978 Somerset were on the threshold of their ‘glory years’, the era of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and Viv Richards, but happily for Hants that day this was to start in 1979, as Somerset fell two runs short.
Richard Gilliat, Hampshire’s Oxford educated captain, was to play in one more Championship fixture after this game. In an interesting interview he gave to Peter Walker on the BBC that season, he spoke of the sense of pursuing a career in sport, or music, taking a risk in life at least for a time, rather than taking the ‘safe option’ of going to work in a bank or similar; still an admirable sentiment in 2017 in an otherwise much changed world.
As for Dean Park, Hampshire played their last home game there 25 years ago, after a decade in which the county began to rather lose its way off the field. As seen now the available comforts and catering for members, the parking spaces are, of course, of their time. The (partly modernized) ground has since been used by Dorset and is now owned by a private school. As one of the county game’s past outgrounds it is still a place of happy memories for those who were there when Hampshire were.