All-rounder Ryan McLaren produced a brilliant unbeaten half-century, but it was Warwickshire who made the stronger start on day one of Hampshire’s Specsavers County Championship match at the Ageas Bowl.
Hampshire quickly found themselves in trouble in tricky batting conditions after five wickets for seamer Keith Barker (5-44) left the hosts reeling on 59-6.
However, McLaren produced a brilliant innings to leave Hampshire approaching 200 at stumps on the opening day.
History was made before a ball had even been bowled at the Ageas Bowl when visiting skipper Ian Bell exercised his right to bowl first, instead of having a toss, under the new regulations.
The former England man’s decision was immediately justified with left-armer Keith Barker (5-44) finding some early success. During a tricky early period, Hants lost three wickets to Barker inside the first ten overs with the experienced opener finding a lot of movement off the pitch.
And it didn’t stop there for the visitors as they dominated the morning session with Barker picking up the first five-wicket haul of the Specsavers County Championship as Hants went into lunch on 66-6.
The Hampshire fans were given a taste of McLaren’s ability with the bat in the final match of last season with a crucial 52 at Trent Bridge and he certainly showed his worth once again with a brilliant unbeaten knock of 84, his highest first-class score in England.
The 33-year old did not appear at all phased by the precarious situation Hampshire found themselves in, playing a number of fluent drives through the off-side. McLaren was well supported by debutant Reece Topley (15 off 68 balls), who reached his highest first-class score before being dismissed by Chris Woakes (1-35).
It was to Hampshire’s credit that they continued to frustrate the visitors into the evening session with James Tomlinson, not for the first time in his career, playing a suitably stubborn innings of 15 from 58 balls as he and McLaren played out nearly 20 overs for the ninth wicket.
Bad light eventually stopped play mid-way through the evening session, with Hants ending the day on 189-8.
Former England Test batsman Ian Bell’s impressive century proved to be the difference on day three of Hampshire’s Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire at the Ageas Bowl.
After Hants reached their first bonus point early in the day, Fidel Edwards (3-80) gave the hosts a strong start, dismissing both Warwickshire openers for single figures.
However, Bell reached a patient hundred in the evening session and was well-supported by Chris Woakes (66) as Warwickshire stayed on top in the match, finishing the day on 283-6 at stumps.
After seeing no play on day two because of heavy rain, the Hampshire faithful had to wait an extra 24 hours to see if Ryan McLaren, 84 not out overnight, would become the first player to pick up a century at the Ageas Bowl this season.
However Hampshire’s attentions quickly turned to just reaching the 200 mark when McLaren fell to all-rounder Rikki Clarke (3-43), adding one to his overnight score. It was in true tailender fashion that James Tomlinson (23*) and Fidel Edwards (4) helped Hants reach their first point of the season – bashing three fours in five balls as the hosts finished the first innings of 202 all-out.
It was in this fixture last season that saw fast-bowler Fidel Edwards produce one of his best performances for the club and his start to this match certainly showed he enjoys playing against Warwickshire.
The west-Indian paceman steamed in with purpose and intent all morning and he was rewarded for his efforts, dismissing openers Ian Westwood (2) and Varun Chopra (8), both lbw.
And it got even better for Hants when skipper James Vince (1-14), bowling because of the injury to Reece Topley, grabbed the important wicket of former England man Jonathan Trott (27) to leave the visitors 77-3 at lunch.
It was an afternoon session that saw the Hampshire bowlers keep it tight throughout and take two wickets in the process. James Tomlinson (1-71) and Ryan McLaren (1-53) both picked up their first wicket of the season, as Warwickshire went into tea on 169-5.
However it was in truth the visiting side who dominated the evening session – largely thanks to former England test batsman Ian Bell, who brought up a well-made century in 218 balls (8 fours). Bell was well-supported by all-rounder Chris Woakes, as the pair led the visitors to 283-6 at stumps, a lead of 81 runs.
A brilliant unbeaten partnership between Liam Dawson (50*) and Adam Wheater (34*) helped Hampshire secure a draw in their opening Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Hampshire had been put on the back foot by quick wickets in the afternoon session but the pair batted for 47 overs to save the game for the hosts.
Warwickshire were in a good position to attempt to force a result after Ian Bell further helped his England Test recall by scoring miserly-turned-adventurous 174.
The Warwickshire captain notched up 44 morning runs with a masterclass of field piercing shots – showcasing reverse sweeps, cover drives and the rest of his repertoire.
He reached 150 in 268 balls and looked to attack the ball to push the score moving and put pressure on Hampshire.
At the other end the visitors lost their first wicket of the day, Rikki Clarke (7) was on the wrong end of a Adam Wheater stunner, as the keeper dove low to his right to grab an outside edge.
Bell was the next to fall as he tried one shot too many and skied James Tomlinson (3-79) to James Vince at mid-on.
Off-spinner Liam Dawson (1-53) had bowled brilliantly on day three and finally got the wicket his tight-fisted deserved – Jeetan Patel’s pole knocked back.
Boyd Rankin (0) was the last to depart as he copied his captain and lofted one to Vince – Warwickshire ending on 360, with a lead of 158.
Hampshire wobbled in their effort to save the game, as Warwickshire’s bowling attack shared the wickets.
Keith Barker got two while Clarke, Patel and Rankin all grabbed a scalp each, with the latter picking up his sixth of the match – the visitors getting their tails up.
Fast bowler Barker was the first to strike as Michael Carberry (18) edged to Varun Chopra at first slip, before Sam Hain pulled off a close catch to get rid of Tom Alsop (24) – giving Rankin his wicket.
Spinner Patel caused problems throughout the session, with regular oohs and ahhs when the ball gripped and got his reward when he had Will Smith (3) leg before and the hosts were left in trouble when skipper James Vince (21) was also out lbw to Clarke.
Barker ended the game with match figures of seven for 83 – his last victim Sean Ervine, who edged to Tim Ambrose behind the stumps.
But keeper Wheater and all-rounder Dawson took over and guided Hampshire into a lead.
It was a very important partnership at that stage of the game. We were under pressure at that moment and they both came through and showed some character, batted well and made good decisions and saw us to the draw. We will take the points and move on to Headingley.Giles White, Hampshire Director of Cricket
And hands were finally shaken just before 6pm, as Liam Dawson reached a half century to salvage a draw – Hampshire nabbing what could be a useful nine points, Warwickshire collecting 12 to kick-start their title bid.