THERE was a bumper crowd of around 2,000 — and a disruptive swarm of bees — at Newclose cricket ground on day one of the Specsavers County Championship match between Hampshire and Nottinghamshire, the first time a first class county game had been played on the Isle of Wight since 1962.

Joe Weatherley top scored with 66 as Hampshire reached 288-6, with Steven Mullaney and Jake Ball both taking two wickets each on a terrific first day's play.

Isle of Wight County Press: England test legend Stuart Broad in action at Newclose yesterday (Monday). England test legend Stuart Broad in action at Newclose yesterday (Monday).

Newclose made its debut as a first-class 'outground', with the occasion not lost on Islanders or Hampshire members alike as the crowd packed the venue yesterday (Monday).

The last time these two counties played a competitive match on the Isle of Wight was at the former J.Samuel White ground, Cowes, in June 1957, which Hampshire won in a three-day game. 

Hampshire's last county championship game on the Island before yesterday was against Worcestershire at the same venue 57 years ago.

Newclose chairman of trustees, Martin Gardner — the son of Brian Gardner, who established the ground more than a decade ago — rang the pavilion bell to signal the players entering the field of play, to warm applause from all corners of the ground.

Fellow trustee and Newclose general manager, Hugh Griffiths, said: "It was a wonderful spectacle and great for the Isle of Wight, for cricket and for the Gardner family who created the ground.

"Having Martin ring the bell as the players were about to take the field was a special moment." 

Nottinghamshire elected to bowl first, without a toss, in overcast conditions — albeit with a good-paced track.

Opening batsman Weatherley batted fluently throughout the morning session, despite Chris Nash putting down a chance at gully when the batsman was on 21, to bring up his 50 in exactly 100 balls.

The opening pair, who got a sighter for the pitch in a Hampshire seconds fixture against Middlesex at Newclose earlier this month, put on a three-figure opening partnership — finally broken on 112 in the 43rd over when a Ball delivery tickled Weatherley's glove and was caught behind, although the batsman's reaction suggested the ball glanced off his forearm.

Legendary England test bowler, Stuart Broad, who didn't seem to be at his devastating best, dismissed debutant Ajinkya Rahane (10) as Hampshire slipped to 205-5, thanks to a superb one-handed catch by Chris Nash in the gully.

Bizarrely, the afternoon session was momentarily delayed as a number of fielders lay prostate on the ground as a swarm of bees suddenly appeared.

But the insects could not prevent Oli Soames being dismissed for 44, having patiently batted out 190 deliveries.

Isle of Wight County Press: Aneurin Donald in action for Hampshire against Nottinghamshire at Newclose in the Specsavers County Championship.Aneurin Donald in action for Hampshire against Nottinghamshire at Newclose in the Specsavers County Championship.

Hampshire's Liam Dawson, who was selected this morning (Tuesday) for the England World Cup squad, battled hard in a useful 40-run stand with Aneurin Donald, before Luke Fletcher flattened his off-stump with the second new ball.

Donald, who reached 35 not out, along with Ian Holland, guided Hampshire to the close without any further losses.

One of the celebrities at the game was another England legend, wicketkeeper Jack Russell, who was at newclose promoting his new book and selling his prints of his paintings of cricket grounds he has played at.

He said: "What a wonderful occasion. Newclose is beautiful ground — one I wished I'd played on."

Of playing at Newclose, Weatherley said: "I really enjoyed playing here. It felt really intimate. It was nice to have a lap around the pitch to say hello and sign some autographs. I hope we can come back here."

Nottinghamshire head coach Peter Moores added: "Newclose has a good cricket pitch, which is good to bat on, but there is still something in it when you bowl well. Both sides got stuck in well to set up a close game."