By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET continued to maintain pressure on leaders Surrey in the County Championship as they recovered from their recent defeat to Essex, comfortably beating 2021 champions Warwickshire by an eight wicket margin at the Ageas Bowl. And on a slow pitch in Southampton it took many contributions from everybody as the hosts declared aggressively in the first innings before damaging batting collapses from the visitors set Hampshire a nominal target in the second, one they easily chased down early on the final day.
Electing to bat first Warwickshire started quickly as Dom Sibley and Alex Davies survived the first hour with relative ease, hitting a fast paced fifty partnership against the new red ball bowlers. But turning to spin get an immediate impact in the sixteenth over as Liam Dawson trapped the former leg-before for fifteen, the visitors losing their opening wicket to signal a slow eight over spell in which only 14 were scored. And just before the lunch break the second wicket came for the hosts as Chris Benjamin was bowled by Mohammed Abbas for seven, Dom Sibley passing his person fifty as Warwickshire reached 87-2 going into the afternoon session.
But just as the visitors looked good Hampshire took control of the innings with five wickets across a six over spell, the first seeing Sibley (56) caught behind off Keith Barker’s bowling. Down the other end Kyle Abbott removed Will Rhodes (2) and Michael Burgess (0) which sandwiched the dismissal of Matthew Lamb (0) from Barker to leave Warwickshire on 97-6. This became 104-7 as Dan Mousley was dismissed caught off an inswinging Abbott as Nathan McAndrew and Danny Briggs (22) joining at the crease; the pair adding a quickfire sixty run partnership off just 18 overs before the latter was dismissed by Dawson’s leg-spin delivery.
Oliver Hannon-Dalby (19) joined McAndrew with the pair combining well either side of tea; their partnership bringing Warwickshire to the 200 run mark and their first batting point as the latter hit two maximums. But the resistance was soon ended when Abbott saw McAndrew (63) hook to deep fine leg and soon had George Garrett bowled for a duck to end the away innings on 217 all out, leaving Hampshire twenty-three overs to bat. And the away bowling was superb as they conceded just 42 runs in this spell and took three wickets of key batsman in the process; Hannon-Dalby seeing off Felix Organ (5) lbw and James Vince nicking to first slip for eight, McAndrew moving on Nick Gubbins for a turgid two off 30 balls just before stumps on day one.
Starting day 2 in arrears of 175 runs Ian Holland and night-watchmen Abbott set about accumulation against tight Warwickshire bowling led by Briggs during the first hour of play; the ongoing heatwave further slowing the outfield. The pair added 46 in eleven overs through a combination of boundaries and hard-graft running between the stumps before losing their fourth wicket; Abbott trapped leg-before for 19 off a fast McAndrew yorker. This wicket brought Dawson together at the crease with Holland, who reached his half century of 131 balls before lunch as the run rate increased with the ball softening; Hampshire reaching 138-4 at the interval.
Already passing the fifty partnership, the pair of Holland and Dawson set about targeting different areas of the pitch; the former peppering gaps between third slip and cover as he progressed towards his century. His partner also looked in fine form as he passed his own fifty off 94 balls and reached the century partnership against toiling away bowling. But after helping secure a first bonus point for his side in-form Holland was left heartbroken as he was dismissed on 99 runs, edging a cut shot to first slip off Briggs before slumping off the field. And there was further disappointment for his partner Dawson just before tea as he was trapped LBW to Hannon-Dalby on 92 offering a defensive shot, leaving his side 249-6 at the break with a lead of thirty-two.
The new ball saw Warwickshire take two wickets after tea as Hannon-Dalby trapped Aneurin Donald leg-before for a seven ball duck, whilst McAndrew ended a flurry of runs from Barker as the batsman chopped o for 16. This left the score on 291-8 before James Fuller linked together with Ben Brown at the crease, the pair looking busy and attack minded as they countered. Brown passed his fifty and moved on to 73 unbeaten runs, whilst Fuller hit some lovely shots as he scored 37 off thirty-nine to push Hampshire past the 350 mark and beyond. And even though Fuller became the 5th wicket of Hannon-Dalby, Hampshire soon declared on 370-9 with a lead of 153 first innings runs; Warwickshire surviving a six over spell to reach 11-0 at stumps.
Hampshire made a bright start to day three as Abbas took the early wicket of Sibley who edged behind for a single off 34 balls to leave Warwickshire struggling on 19-1, bringing Benjamin to the crease alongside the normally attacking Davis. But this was a different approach from the visitors as they scrapped against patient bowling with the game drifting to a half; the batting pair adding just forty five runs off nearly twenty overs before losing the second wicket. And this came on the stroke of lunch as Benjamin edged a fine ball from Barker, scoring three boundaries in his 24 as Warwickshire ended the morning on 72-2 off thirty-five overs.
Warwickshire continued their watchful defensive stroke-play during the second session, but lost two quick wickets as Dawson took advantage of a rough patch off stump; the leg-spinner removing Mousley (11) and Rhodes (3) leg-before to leave the hosts on 91-4 after an eleven over spell that yielded just ten runs overall. And this became 117-6 after another run-devoid period as Abbas bowled Lamb for 18 before seeing Davis caught off his bowling to end the opener’s four hour stand at the crease. This flurry of wickets brought new pair Burgess and McAndrew out of the pavilion with their side facing an innings defeat; helping to settle any further damage by reaching tea on 150-6 with a spell of quick-scoring resistance with a broad mix of strokes.
The pair continued into the evening session and moved Warwickshire into a lead with the new ball bringing the scoring rate to a halt after a flurry of boundaries; pressure finally telling as Abbott removed Burgess for 56 runs just moments after the batsman had hit his half century. The bowlers quickly followed up with the 8th wicket of McAndrew who edged behind off Abbott to leave the visitors on 201-8, which then became 212-9 at stumps as Barker saw Hannon-Dalby caught at slip following a loose drive. And after an eleven over spell on day four that yielded thirty-two runs, Briggs was lastly dismissed by Abbott to end the innings on 243 all out.
Hampshire started well chasing 91 to win as Organ smashed Hannon-Dalby to the ropes after three balls, setting the immediate tone for the chase as the opener hit another seven boundaries in his forty-one off 36 balls. Holland played a supporting role in his ten runs as the fifty partnership came within ten overs before the 1st innings high scorer was trapped leg-before; whilst Organ soon followed caught off Briggs to make the score 55-2. But Vince (22*) and Gubbins (18*) chalked off the remaining runs in fine style as they hit multiple boundaries including one maximum, Hampshire sealing victory just before lunch in the 17th over of batting.
Surrey’s victory over Yorkshire means that Hampshire weren’t able to fully close the gap at the top, which stands at fifteen points; but the team will be delighted at the win that showed grit, effort and determination throughout from everybody. They will face two more games in the County Championship before the end of July, travelling to Gloucestershire from Tuesday and then Yorkshire the following Monday (July 25) in four day matches. In the meantime they will also travel to Edgbaston on Saturday to play the Vitality Blast semi-finals and potential final, with the team due to start at 2:30pm versus Somerset in front of a sell out crowd.
PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE CRICKET: Home batters touch gloves as they lay platform with first innings score.