Hampshire 310-7 (N Pothas 83 no, M A Carberry 77) v Warwickshire
Warwickshire’s rookie seam attack acquitted itself well on a finely-balanced opening day of the championship match with Hampshire at Edgbaston.
The start of the home championship season saw the Bears forced to deploy a bowling unit far removed from that envisaged for much of the winter.
They are – and will remain – without an overseas pace spearhead. Neil Carter and Jimmy Anyon are injured while Naqaash Tahir bowled himself out of the reckoning with an insipid display against Somerset last Sunday.
So the Bears fielded a seam armoury led by three players – Boyd Rankin, Chris Woakes and Andy Miller – with just 20 championship games behind them.
With no top-class spinner around to relieve the pressure, Warwickshire had their work cut out when Hampshire, fresh from a convincing win over Worcestershire in their opening match, won the toss and batted on a decent track. But their callow attack ended an intriguing day with plenty of credit as the visitors amassed a patchy 310 for seven.
Woakes laboured hard through 26 overs while Rankin and Miller impressed. Rankin bowled with sustained pace, prised most from the pitch and looked the high-quality bowler that Ashley Giles suspects he could be. Miller settled quickly on his championship debut, removed two high-calibre batsmen when well-set and struck again late on with the new ball.
Rankin showed the benefit of having serious bowling under his belt already with Ireland in the ICC Trophy. His first ball climbed past Michael Carberry’s outside-edge and his opening spell of 8-4-16-1 included the wicket of Jimmy Adams to a catch by Rikki Clarke at second slip.
Fewer men have safer hands than Clarke when it comes to catching a cricket ball. Unfortunately, when it comes to propelling one 22 yards, those mitts are proving alarmingly unreliable. After harvesting 27-0-134-0 from the first two matches of the season he opened yesterday with 3-0-28-0, Carberry lifting one long-hop into the Hollies Stand.
Having weathered the new ball with only one wicket down, Hampshire were well-placed at 115 for one just before lunch but then Miller seized his first championship wicket. It was a worthy one too, an away-ducker defeating a well-established batsman as Carberry edged behind to depart for 77 (100 balls, 14 fours, one six).
During lunch the cloud thickened and, for an hour, the ball swung more and the bowlers took advantage. Miller took another big wicket when John Crawley edged to second slip. Darren Maddy drew a fatal edge from Marcus North. Rankin found a fast, straight one to fox Sean Ervine.
That made it 183 for five but Hampshire were steadied by Nic Pothas. He added 56 with Liam Dawson and, after Dawson lifted a short ball from Clarke to long leg, 32 with Dominic Cork. Miller removed Cork thanks to a splendid catch by Ian Bell at extra cover but Pothas, a bane for the Bears on previous occasions, saw it through to the close unbeaten on 83 from 152 balls.