Hampshire recover from early Barker onslaught

Warwickshire bowler Keith Barker ended the day with figures of five for 44 at the Ageas Bowl       Pictures: Neil Marshall
Warwickshire bowler Keith Barker ended the day with figures of five for 44 at the Ageas Bowl Pictures: Neil Marshall
Fidel Edwards bowled a six over stint of two for 15 Picture: Neil Marshall

Edwards doubles up to leave Hampshire in the hunt

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Hampshire endured a nightmare start to their County Championship season curtain raiser with Warwickshire, before fighting back to end the opening day on 189 for eight – thanks largely to Ryan McLaren’s unbeaten 84.

The plaudits, though, belonged to visiting bowler Keith Barker who sliced through Hampshire’s top order with an impressive five-wicket haul at the Ageas Bowl.

Barker became the first man to reach the milestone in 2016, ending the day with figures of five for 44 – before the hosts pegged them back through a patient rearguard knock by McLaren.

Former professional footballer Barker was given the best possible start on a green-tinged swinging pitch when under the new regulations Ian Bell was able to elect to bowl without a toss.

And the seamer rewarded his captain with a wicket with his 13th delivery, a beautiful ball which caught the edge of Michael Carberry’s bat before stinging Tim Ambrose’s gloves.

Just five deliveries later the same combination came together to see off young opener Tom Alsop, who tickled an inside edge through to the keeper.

Barker notched up his third of a ferocious opening spell from the Hotel End with Will Smith tapping straight to short leg Sam Hain.

England and Ireland international Boyd Rankin took over from the wicket-taking end and found James Vince mistiming a leading edge to Hain in the covers.

Barker completed his haul with the wickets of Liam Dawson and Sean Ervine – both leg before – to leave the hosts struggling at 66 for six at lunch.

But McLaren led a fightback for the hosts with a stout half century coming off 88 balls, helped by genuine tailenders Reece Topley and James Tomlinson – once Adam Wheater had been given out leg before to Rikki Clarke.

McLaren and Topley, a winter recruit from Essex, put on a watchful 51 to stunt the wicket train.

Topley departed for a first-class best of 15, beating his previous high of 12, when he was comprehensively bowled by England bowler Chris Woakes.

But Tomlinson continued where Topley left off with an unbeaten partnership of 51 – although the Hampshire man was given two lifelines.

Firstly he was dropped by a sloppy Jeetan Patel at second slip before Varun Chopra put down a sharp chance at gully in the next over – both with the batsman on 12.

Dark clouds and imminent rain called an early end to the first day of the season – with Hampshire 11 runs shy of an unlikely batting point.

Director of cricket Giles White was pleased with Hampshire’s recovery.

He said: ‘It was a difficult start.

‘If you lose six wickets in the first session it is far from ideal but credit to Warwickshire, I thought they bowled well from ball one – for Barker to get five wickets before lunch is an excellent achievement for him.‘

‘They put us under pressure but we fought back well at the end of the day.

‘Ryan McLaren was fantastic under the circumstances and he was well supported by the lower order as well.’