After a day of tough Championship cricket at Edgbaston, in sunny conditions ideal for players and spectators, Hampshire finished on 291-6 against Warwickshire.
Opener Tom Alsop held the innings together with only his second first-class hundred. He diligently compiled off 131 not out off 273 balls. At the other extreme, Aneurin Donald jazzed his way to 75 off just 56 deliveries to supply a well-needed boost to the innings.
Oliver Hannon-Dalby took the bowling honours for Warwickshire with 4-58 off 23 overs of fast-medium probing, constantly getting late movement through the air. His figures belied his reputation as a white ball bowler only.
Hampshire were without James Vince and Aiden Markram. Warwickshire’s extensive injury list included Ian Bell, Sam Hain and Olly Stone and they had Chris Woakes on England duty – and so they gave a first-class debut to 19-year-old batsman Rob Yates.
On a sunny morning, with a gentle breeze blowing from the compass point named after Hampshire’s acting captain, the visitors won the toss and decided to bat on an enticingly flat pitch.
Both Henry Brookes and Hannon-Dalby got some useful late outswing in the early overs. Hannon-Dalby was immaculate in his line and length and gave Oliver Soames, in particular, a hard time of it.
In fact, it was Joe Weatherley who fell first, pushing half forward and being trapped lbw by Hannon Dalby whose figures at that stage were 4.1-4-0-1. He also had a big lbw appeal against Soames but it was Jeetan Patel who struck, getting the opener to edge down the leg side, to be well caught by Tim Ambrose.
From 44-2, Tom Alsop and Sam Northeast built a solid stand either side of lunch. Northeast looked very well organised, as you would expect from someone close to 30 in age and 40 in first-class batting average.
After lunch, Hannon-Dalby switched ends and, after applying a lot of pressure with his accuracy, trapped Northeast lbw for 22. The third wicket pair had added 73 valuable runs.
Rilee Rossouw struggled to get off the mark and took the dangerous step of trying to hit Patel over the top. As many have done before him, he failed and was caught at mid-off to leave Hampshire struggling on 122-4.
Alsop and Liam Dawson had to work hard against tight bowling through the afternoon, but made it to tea at 165-4. Soon after, however, the ever-persevering Hannon-Dalby struck again when he induced a false off-side shot from Dawson who fell to a catch by debutant Yates for 19. At 171-5, the innings was back in the balance.
Donald, recruited by Hampshire despite a dismal season last year for Glamorgan, came out ready to play his shots.
Craig Miles, seeking to establish himself with the Bears following his move from Gloucestershire, struggled throughout the day with his line and length. Now, four times in one over Donald despatched him to the off-side boundary. Donald raced to his fifty off just 41 balls, giving the Hampshire innings valuable impetus and providing Alsop with just the support he needed to enable him to go steadily onwards.
When the new ball was taken, Donald’s response to being hit painfully amidships by Brookes was to hit him over square leg for six and then to do the same to Hannon-Dalby. He had scored 75 off 56 balls, out of the 84 added with Alsop, when he steered a catch off Hannon-Dalby to gully. Hampshire were 255-6.
Late in the day Warwickshire would have improved their position had Brookes held a return catch from Gareth Berg, and Dom Sibley had caught a leading edge from Alsop off Hannon-Dalby. As it was Alsop stayed firm and, despite an uncertain start, Berg stayed with him.
Overall, Hampshire will feel satisfied with their day’s work but will be looking to press on towards 400 tomorrow.