Lancashire 240 (Bailey 59, Salt 55, Barker 5-67) and 9 for 0 need 342 runs to beat Hampshire 246 (Gubbins 101*, Fuller 55, Hasan 5-45) and 344 (Gubbins 130, Brown 72, Anderson 3-36)
Left-handed batter Gubbins followed his innings-rescuing 101 not out with an effortless 130 to give Hampshire a hefty lead on a pitch which had previously benefited the bowlers.
Hampshire were eventually bowled out for 344, with the visitors reaching nine in six wicketless overs by close.
Gubbins broke through in Middlesex’s championship-winning season in 2016, where he clattered 1,409 Division One runs, including four centuries (a double against Lancashire among them). At that point, a Test career seemed a formality.
However, those expectations played on his mind, his average nose-dived to 25 the following season and talk of international call-ups dried up. A change of scenery to Hampshire last summer has seen a fresh blossoming with 769 runs in 2021 followed by a profitable spell in Zimbabwe over the winter. He already has 364 runs in the 2022 Championship.
That kind of form tends to turn heads, especially with a new Test captain and managing director looking at ways to stamp a freshness to the squad. Scoring a pair of centuries against England’s premium fast bowler won’t do any harm of upgrading from 27 England Lions appearances, either.
He spoke in 2019 about how he had matured and grown after the purple-patch pressures: “I like to think I’ve become better at dealing with things in life generally, be it talk of England or the boiler going in the house.” Those life lessons were put into action on the first morning when he was in the middle of Hampshire collapsing to 40 for 5. Then, his unbeaten 101 kept Hampshire in the game.
Gubbins was largely anonymous in his slow run-building, although he burst into life with two eye-catching cover drives. The first punishing a rare piece of width offered by Anderson, the latter taking him to a 120-ball fifty.
Gubbins and Brown are two recent signings under-pinning Hampshire’s chase for a first title since 1974; hungry having been unwanted by previous counties but with the records of the finest county players. They grew the lead in a risk-free fashion, making the most of an unresponsive ageing ball, totting up 144 runs together in the lazy spring afternoon sun.
Gubbins’ big moment came when he pushed Hasan Ali through the covers and for a second the emotion appeared to swell as he gently punched the air with his head bowed, tapped his bat on the floor three times before turning around and almost collapsing into a hug with Brown. Only then did he take off his helmet and raise his bat to the dressing room for the 13th ton of his first-class career.
Brown reached 72 before the second new ball pinned him plumb in front, with Felix Organ following him back shortly after when not offering a shot to George Balderson. The lead passed 300 before Gubbins was finally dismissed after 231 runs and 515 deliveries in the match when Danny Lamb trapped him on the crease. Keith Barker chipped in with 40 before scything to cover, James Fuller was bowled and Muhammad Abbas holed out to long-on to complete the innings.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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