THE size of the crowd on the first historic day of action in the Specsavers County Championship match between Hampshire and Nottinghamshire was no flash in the pan as crowds increased to watch yesterday's play at Newclose.

The bumper crowd of more than 2,000 — basking in glorious sunshine — enjoyed a superb day of cricket, with Hampshire on top, despite them allowing Notts skipper Steven Mullaney to reach his century (102) after he survived three dropped catches.

Hampshire pace bowler Kyle Abbott bowls to Notts' left-handed opener Ben Slater.  Video: Paul Blackley

The hosts, who replaced England spinner Liam Dawson with Mason Crane, only added 22 runs to take their overnight score from 288-6 to 310 all out — the final four wickets falling in the opening 35 minutes of play.

Dawson's withdrawal following his selection for the England's World Cup squad, came after he was the last man out for 25 on day one.

Isle of Wight County Press: Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson in action on Monday just after he was selected to play for England in the World Cup this summer. Photo: Graham Brown Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson in action on Monday just after he was selected to play for England in the World Cup this summer. Photo: Graham Brown

Hampshire bowler Kyle Abbott (3-61) starred as the hosts ripped through the Notts top order to leave them in deep trouble at 72-5.

But Mullaney's 13 fours and two sixes from 230 balls guided the visitors to 239 all out, with England pace bowler Stuart Broad not providing the anticipated fireworks with the bat — clean bowled with a yorker by ex-West Indies test star Fidel Edwards for one run.  

However, Notts' bowlers left Hampshire reeling at 3-1 and a lead of 74 runs at stumps last night with the wicket of Joe Weatherley, lbw for two.

Newclose made its debut as a first-class 'outground' on Monday — the first county championship match on the Island since 1962.

Isle of Wight County Press: The big crowd enjoying the cricket in glorious sunshine at Newclose yesterday (Tuesday).The big crowd enjoying the cricket in glorious sunshine at Newclose yesterday (Tuesday).

Among the crowd watching the game was Isle of Wight-born Neil Shutler, who will be 101 next month.

The father-of-ten, who once had a bakery business in Newport and who was a well knowne cricketer and umpire on the Island, was with friends and family enjoying the occasion.

"It's wonderful. I have really enjoyed the cricket at this lovely ground," said Neil, a resident of The Orchard care home, Newport, who watched county games at the former J.S. White's ground in Cowes in the 1950s and 60s.

Legendary England wicketkeeper and artist, Jack Russell, who was promoting his work and new book at Newclose the first two days and today (Wednesday), will be painting Newclose cricket ground in celebration of the venue hosting its first county game in 57 years. 

Isle of Wight County Press: England cricket legend Jack Russell has been at Newclose enjoying the cricket as well as promoting his work as an artist and signing copies of his new book.England cricket legend Jack Russell has been at Newclose enjoying the cricket as well as promoting his work as an artist and signing copies of his new book.  

Event organisers and spectators using Newclose's VIP facilities were full of praise for the high standard of catering provided by the Isle of Wight College, Newport.

Newclose trustee and general manager, Hugh Griffiths, said: "The first two days have been a great success for us and have exceeded all our expectations, particularly interms of financial income generated.

"We forecast another good crowd today and that by tea, we should have covered our investment into the match with a day's play remaining.

"With a small profit we expect to make, it will go to the Newclose charity, with investment into the electronic scoreboard to bring it fully up to specification.

"We will not need to do anything more with the pitch, which groundsman Andy Butler has created after investing more than ten years into it. 

"His importance in making Newclose what it is today is second only to the investment Brian Gardner made.

"We have a massive bunch of volunteers and we are also grateful to Vectis Sunrise Rotary Club for car parking duties and the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service in providing first aiders." 

Today's play will get under way at 11am.