Gloucestershire 179 and 111 for 2 (Scott 70*) need a further 257 to beat Hampshire 342 and 204 (Donald 89, Amir 3-33)
Gloucestershire were set 368 to win, and makeshift opener George Scott moved to an unbeaten career-best 70 to help his side to 111 for 2 at the close, with 257 still to win and all three results possible.
Donald’s motto is “no other way but forward”, and he has needed it during batches of operation, recovery and rehabilitation for two separate ACL injuries in the last two years. It was equally applicable to the approach he needed when he arrived at the crease with his side 65 for 7.
Hampshire’s malaise from the previous evening continued when James Vince nicked behind off Ryan Higgins four balls into the day before Nick Gubbins followed suit. Higgins and Mohammad Amir were the catalyst for Gloucestershire’s early carnage – both ended the innings with three-fors.
Ben Brown under edged Dom Goodman to the keeper, Liam Dawson slogged to deep square and Keith Barker tamely chipped across the line to mid on to leave Hampshire 103 for 9, and the lead 266.
The extra half an hour was taken, which sparked Donald into life. The former Glamorgan batter had to wait 962 days between facing first-team deliveries before a disappointing six-ball 1 in the first innings. He wasn’t prepared to waste his long-awaited opportunity a second time.
Donald first injured his knee during a post-season inter-club five-a-side football match in 2019. After a lonely recovery in lockdown, he flirted with the idea of featuring in 2020 but avoided the risk, instead he prepared for a 2021 comeback. Everything appeared on course for that but he felt his knee go again during an innocuous piece of fielding during a pre-season friendly; another frustratingly lengthy lay-off was necessary as he returned to square one.
His knee might have twice failed him but his ability remained. He made 71 off 28 balls bullying Solent University students, followed by 109 off 73 and 143 off 117 in the Second XI Championship; and the devastation he rained down on the Ageas Bowl prior to lunch proved he was still capable at the highest domestic level.
A trio of fours off Higgins warmed him up before three successive sixes off his legs, the first of which brought up his fifty, sent him into overdrive and turn the game once again back towards Hampshire. In total, 56 runs came in the additional half-hour, with the usually aggressive Fuller allowing Donald to obliterate the bowling – albeit with two lives on 30 and 68.
Post lunch was a more sedate affair, both batters unusually low in the order due to Hampshire’s use of nightwatchmen. The stand ended when Donald skied a Jared Warner bouncer. But his and Fuller’s efforts meant Hampshire set Gloucestershire what would be their second-highest successful fourth-innings chase.
Scott, who is deputising at the top of the order for the injured Chris Dent, and Marcus Harris appeared in little danger either side of tea, with the sun coming out to further assist the free-flowing Scott and tenacious Harris. Mohammad Abbas broke the 54-run stand by castling Harris with one which kept low and James Bracey was then pinned going back to Dawson. But Scott continued to chip away, passing fifty for the second time in first-class cricket and moving past his previous best of 55.