Hampshire face a tough challenge in their second match after promotion from Division Two. After suffering a home loss against Sussex last week they now travel to a strong looking Warwickshire side who will be buoyed by an excellent 2014 season. The Bears meanwhile could hardly have hoped for a better opening fixture with their home form a particular strength in the last campaign.
The Edgbaston outfit finished second behind Yorkshire in the County Championship last season and are likely to be challenging for a similar position this year. Warwickshire may also benefit from a settled squad having seen no new arrivals for the four day game. Given the chance on a wicket that generally plays well and provides few surprises a top order that includes experienced openers Varun Chopra and William Porterfield and exciting talent like Sam Hain could set daunting totals.
In contrast Hampshire’s batting unit twice failed to pass 300 against Sussex’s four-pronged seam attack and will face similar difficulties against Warwickshire. Fast bowlers Boyd Rankin and Chris Wright will look to emulate the successes of Ajmal Shahzad and Steve Magoffin and undermine the opposition with regular wickets. The visitor’s batting line-up certainly has the potential to succeed in Division One, but may take some time to adjust to the increase in quality.
Overall, a trip to Edgbaston should give a clear indication about Hampshire’s chances in the top flight – whether they can compete with the stronger sides, or set their sights upon survival.
Rikki Clarke has long been a key player for Warwickshire and is one of the most consistent performers in Division One. The all-rounder offers an edge in both disciplines as well as vital experience and know-how at the top level. He looked in good touch in Warwickshire’s pre-season match, scoring a century against Durham MCCU and will look to contribute with bat and ball.
James Vince scored 1,525 runs at an average of 61 to finish as Division Two’s leading run scorer last season. He was an important part of Hampshire’s promotion and they will need him to re-find his exceptional form in the face of better bowling attacks. Vince will be looking to replicate his last performance at Edgbaston when he scored 145 in 2011.
Warwickshire name a familiar looking squad with Varun Chopra captaining after Jim Troughton’s retirement through injury last year.
Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra (captain), Tim Ambrose (wk), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Sam Hain, Ateeq Javid, Richard Jones, Jeetan Patel, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Ian Westwood, Chris Wright
New signing Andre Adams in the squad and likely to make his Hampshire debut after missing the opening week loss to Sussex. Australian pace bowler Jackson Bird is still out injured.
Hampshire squad: Jimmy Adams (captain), Will Smith, Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson, Gareth Berg, James Vince, Michael Carberry, Danny Briggs, James Tomlinson, Chris Wood, Adam Wheater (wk), Andre Adams, Brad Wheal.
Weather and conditions
The forecast is extremely promising with no rain forecast and dry conditions set to maintained throughout the week. Temperatures are as high as can be expected in the early season and a far cry from previous seasons.
The pitch at Edgbaston is usually hard and true, holding up well through the four days. Traditionally it has been favourable to batsmen, but the weather should allow for some pace and bounce – good news for the likes of Boyd Rankin and James Tomlinson.
Date: 19th – 22nd April 2015
Umpires: Graham Lloyd & Tim Robinson
Odds (via SkyBet): Warwickshire 4/9, Hampshire 15/8
LV County Championship Match Stats (in association with Opta)
- – Michael Carberry averages 54.80 in all first-class matches against Warwickshire