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    Impending stalemate broken by Fletcha Middleton's maiden Championship hundred
Impending stalemate broken by Fletcha Middleton's maiden Championship hundred
Fletcha Middleton made his maiden Championship century. Source: Getty Images

Impending stalemate broken by Fletcha Middleton's maiden Championship hundred

Fletcha Middleton celebrated his maiden Vitality County Championship century. But Hampshire and Warwickshire look set for a draw at the Utilita Bowl.

Home-grown Middleton, who impressed in last season's Metro Bank One Day Cup, made 116 after putting on 213 runs for the second wicket with fellow centurion Nick Gubbins.

Warwickshire were on course for a 90-run first-innings lead after an afternoon collapse saw Hampshire lose five middle-order wickets for 45.

Rob Yates - who has now made 296 runs and taken 11 wickets this season - and opening partner Alex Davies put on 46 not out to reach 136.

Middleton's father Tony scored his maiden first-class century against Kent 34 years ago this week - he finished the season with 1,238 runs for Hampshire. Fletcha will be hoping to emulate that.

There were many similarities. Kevan James and Simon Hinks, now commentators and umpires, were there on both occasions. But most notable was the steeliness of the innings.

Tony's would see him score 127 runs from 314 balls in just over six hours. Fletcha continued the family tradition of crease occupation over quick scoring; his eventual 116 came from 329 balls in four minutes just under seven hours.

For much of the morning session, the scoreboard looked stuck. Only 10 runs were scored in the first half hour and 80 runs were scattered before lunch. Middleton and Gubbins are hardly Bazball enthusiasts at the best of times, but an idle pitch didn't help.

Gubbins followed up his two half-centuries against Lancashire last week with a 216-ball century. It was the 17th of his first-class career and the seventh since arriving at Hampshire two-and-a-half years ago.

After a session of nothingness best summed up by a funky field of four midwickets, three covers, one man under helmet offside, and one slip, things came alive with full stomachs.

Hampshire lost five wickets for 45 runs in a session of 103 for six.

Gubbins fell for 119 shortly after lunch, yorking to a Danny Briggs delivery that then spun out of bounds. An attempt by James Fuller to increase the run-rate failed when he slashed to short third man for a nine-ball five.

Amid the drama, Middleton, a naturally shy man, looked more relieved than ecstatic to reach three figures with a cover drive and almost needed to be coaxed into celebrating by proud captain James Vince.

It was a fleeting moment of joy for Hampshire before Vince was adjudged caught behind and Tom Prest edged Hassan Ali to the second slip. No mean feat on a pitch that offered little carry for the seamers.

At that point, the scorecard looked like a curious mix of four single figures and two centuries, but Liam Dawson and Ben Brown made things look slightly better with a 41-run stand.

Hampshire's slowness, however, meant that they only managed a single batting bonus point - inexplicable given that the Utilita Bowl pitches have been designed in part this season to encourage this aspect of the game. By way of comparison, Warwickshire reached their first batting point in 67.2 overs and Hampshire in 93.4.

Yates then took over and had Middleton caught at the bat-pad before Dawson and Ian Holland edged him to leg-slip.

The part-time spinner completed the four-wicket haul when Kyle Abbott was driven to midwicket before Briggs finished off the innings when Ben Brown's leading-edge took him out for 49. Hampshire were bowled out for 365 before the visitors survived 15 overs to finish unscathed.

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