Balcombe’s gone from bit-part to big part

David Balcombe takes his eighth wicket against Gloucestershire at the Ageas Bowl yesterday       Picture: Neil Marshall

David Balcombe takes his eighth wicket against Gloucestershire at the Ageas Bowl yesterday Picture: Neil Marshall

Tom Alsop hit an unbeaten century. Picture: Neil Marshall

Tommy guns down the Spitfires

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Giles White believes last season’s loan switch to Kent has helped David Balcombe complete his transformation from bit-part player to Hampshire’s number-one bowler.

Balcombe picked up eight wickets for 71 – the best bowling analysis by anyone at the Ageas Bowl and his own career-best figures – as Gloucestershire were bowled out for 314.

But considering he was allowed out on loan last term and has barely had a look-in in recent seasons, Balcombe has shown his ability and worth to the side with his fine display – especially when compared with the home side’s batting efforts as they struggled to 182 for seven at stumps yesterday.

And White believes the confidence factor is key to Balcombe’s flying start to the season.

White said: ‘It’s a fantastic achievement. He (Balcombe) thoroughly deserved his eight wickets and he looked a class act. He went away to Kent on loan and bowled well for them.

‘I’m really pleased for him and, hopefully, he stays on the park and plays a big part for us this year.

‘I think the loan move to Kent did him the world of good.

‘He has got a lot of confidence from that and he has gone from strength to strength.’

Balcombe revealed his pride at writing himself into the Hampshire record books, with five of his victims edging behind to wicketkeeper Michael Bates.

The 27-year-old said: ‘I was very kindly notified by James Tomlinson that it was the best bowling analysis on the ground.

‘It’s brilliant. I’m very proud. Firstly, it’s great to be doing it for Hampshire. I went out on loan last year but to do it for my team is fantastic.

‘To have the best figures at this ground seems a bit ridiculous, to be honest.’

Balcombe led the charge with a fine performance that eclipsed Alan Mullally’s eight for 90 against Warwickshire in 2001.

But a lack of support at the other end allowed the visitors to get too many in their first innings – with opener Chris Dent completing a fine 114 to put his side in command at the midway point in the contest.

In reply, Hampshire’s batsmen also made their traditional slow start to the season, with only Simon Katich (74) making anything like a sizeable contribution, only for a rash stroke to deny him a debut century.

But White said: ‘We’re behind in the game at the moment but we’re confident we can turn it around.’

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