|LV= County Championship Division One, College Ground, Cheltenham (day one)|
|Hampshire 203-2: Organ 93*, Holland 48|
|Gloucestershire: Yet to bat|
|Gloucestershire 0 pts, Hampshire 1 pt|
Felix Organ defied blistering heat and all that Gloucestershire’s bowlers could throw at him to compile a notable unbeaten half-century and put County Championship title contenders Hampshire in credit on the opening day of the 150th Cheltenham Festival.
To the relief of his bowlers, Hampshire captain James Vince won the toss and elected to bat on a day when the temperature reached 38C at the famous old college ground.
Organ ensured it was a gruelling spell in the field for bottom-of-the-table Gloucestershire, ushering the visitors to 203-2 at the close on a day when play was restricted to 72 overs by an ECB directive intended to protect players and spectators alike from a heatwave of unprecedented proportions.
Applying himself diligently, Organ maintained concentration throughout to post 93 not out and dominate stands of 117 and 55 with Ian Holland and Nick Gubbins for the first and second wickets respectively.
Chasing a first win of the season in red-ball cricket, Gloucestershire stuck to their task manfully in energy-sapping conditions, Zak Chappell and Ollie Price claiming the only wickets to fall and Zafar Gohar sending down 17 overs as Hampshire were restricted to 2.88 runs an over.
Just 15 points behind Division One leaders Surrey and intent on closing the gap, Hampshire set their sights on laying solid first-innings foundations, compiling steadily and taking few risks.
Accordingly, Holland and Organ demonstrated admirable patience and discipline to see off accurate new-ball spells from Tom Price and Ryan Higgins.
Change bowlers Chappell and Josh Shaw posed rather more questions, passing the bat on a number of occasions, but with additional pace and bounce came more runs.
Organ quickly discovered fluency, twice driving Chappell through the covers and then cutting the same bowler to the fence as Hampshire achieved lift-off.
The opening partnership reached 50 in 15 overs and the visitors reached lunch on 79-0, Organ raising a 71-ball half-century with his ninth four shortly after the resumption.
Organ and Holland raised 100 in 35.4 overs, but the latter fell two short of his 50, playing down the wrong line and being pinned lbw by Chappell, having faced 131 deliveries.
Thereafter, Gloucestershire’s bowlers turned the screw, restricting Hampshire to just three scoring shots in 7.3 overs up until tea. Effectively becalmed, Organ mustered a mere nine runs in a session that yielded a miserly 44 runs in 24 overs.
Gubbins and Organ resumed normal service in the final session to set the scoreboard moving again, only for persistent Gloucestershire to once again apply the brakes.
Having chiselled 35 from 63 balls, Gubbins played a tired drive and edged behind, where James Bracey held on after initially securing the ball between his thighs to give delighted off-spinner Price his maiden first-class wicket.
Unperturbed, Organ continued to inch his way towards three figures, summoning a sumptuous off-drive at the expense of Higgins to bring up Hampshire’s 200 shortly before the close.
For his part, Gloucestershire captain Graeme van Buuren was careful to look after his bowlers, rotating the eight used on a regular basis to help conserve energy for when conditions return to something more akin to normal.
Report supplied by the ECB Reporters’ Network.