Hampshire 379 & 301-6 (9pts) drew with Warwickshire (12pts) 630-8 dec
Captain Tim Ambrose paid credit to his bowlers but reflected on a “golden opportunity” missed after a spate of dropped catches cost Warwickshire victory against Hampshire at Edgbaston.
Left-arm spinner Ant Botha bowled the Bears into a promising position on the final day. Just after lunch Hampshire, needing 251 to avoid an innings defeat, were 140 for three and vulnerable as Botha found some turn in a long and controlled spell from the City End.
But he was the principal victim as Warwickshire’s fielders were afflicted by an afternoon bout of butterfingers. In little over an hour, four chances went down, three off the spinner.
Most significantly, Sean Ervine (who made 21) and Nic Pothas (65 not out) were dropped on nought by Rikki Clarke and substitute fielder Navdeep Poonia respectively and Hampshire were allowed to defend their way to a draw at 301 for six.
The match brought plenty to please the captain. The batsmen scored 630 and an inexperienced bowling attack exceeded expectations. But the fumbling final-day fielding will no doubt be addressed in practice this week – and who knows how important those victory points could have proved come September?
“I am a little bit disappointed,” Ambrose said. “We had a chance for eight points and you don’t get many chances to win in championship cricket. That was a golden opportunity to win a game.
“It was disappointing in that way. But we finished the game well on top and we did play all the cricket, in my opinion.
“Full credit to all the bowlers. They did everything right to win us the game. They created chances and I could not be happier with the way they bowled. It was a fantastic effort, especially after the overs they put in in the first innings.
“Nobody drops a catch on purpose and it is annoying when that happens but all you can do is work hard and make sure you don’t miss them next time around.”
Other than that cack-handed fielding, Warwickshire can be happy with their first home four-dayer of the season. Jim Troughton, Ambrose, Clarke and Botha between them clobbered 488 runs from 668 balls with 61 fours and four sixes while the bowlers plugged away impressively on a pitch that gave only sporadic assistance.
Botha shouldered responsibility impressively on the final day. Boyd Rankin bowled 49 overs in the match and troubled batsmen with pace and lift. Andy Miller’s championship debut suggested he is far from out of his depth in county cricket.
“I am very happy with the way the young lads have performed,” Ambrose said. “Andy Miller, on his debut, and Boyd Rankin, just off a plane the day before, have gone out there and bowled fantastically.
“With Chris Woakes as well we had a very young seam attack and they did really well in both innings. They are massive positives to see the young lads coming through. You need players to step up like that.
“We have also performed well every time with the bat so far. Different guys have put their hand up and that is important. Now we have a week off to chew things over after a very good start.
n?Warwickshire will play Yorkshire in a Second XI Trophy game on the main ground at Edgbaston tomorrow. On Wednesday they begin a three-day game against the same opposition at Kings Heath CC.