Hampshire take eye off Ball but respond well

Sean Ervine   Picture: Neil Marshall

Sean Ervine Picture: Neil Marshall

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Hampshire rallied to end a testing, rain-affected first day at the Ageas Bowl on 149 for four against Nottingham – after visiting bowler Jake Ball caught the eye with two wickets.

Young fast bowler Ball staked his claim to replace injury-doubt Ben Stokes in England’s second test, with an excellent show of swing bowing.

Indeed, Ball may only be available for the opening two days of Nottinghamshire’s County Championship match with Hampshire, if he is selected for the Test against Sri Lanka at Durham.

But he quickly showed the form which had brought him 19 wickets this season, after skipper Chris Read had refused the option of a toss to opt to have a bowl.

Ball, whose first two balls whistled past Michael Carberry’s outside edge, finally caught the former England opener’s bat only to see wicketkeeper Read put down the tough diving chance to his left.

Along with Luke Fletcher, Ball put on an exhibition of fast bowling but could not shake off the watchful Jimmy Adams and Carberry.

The pair put on the county’s highest opening stand of the season so far, of 45, before Carberry finally put bat on a ball nicking away from him.

Ball had finally got his man an hour after he was dropped – this time snaffled by Notts debutant Dan Christian at third slip.

Adams continued his patient vigil and moved past 12,000 first class runs in his career.

But three runs after passing the milestone Adams became the first of two session altering wickets for Fletcher – the ex-captain knocking back a caught and bowled chance.

The next ball, with 10 minutes still remaining before lunch, Liam Dawson was pinned on the crease leg before – a serene session ruining for the hosts.

No play was possible though the whole of the afternoon session as rain teamed down, before a major mop-up operation.

Another 14 overs were able to be played in the evening session before the rain returned but the hosts lost another batsman.

Again the ball squirted around the wicket with extreme swing, seam and bounce – the type which had troubled Hampshire all day.

Will Smith – who has become Hampshire four-day captain with James Vince tied up with England – had been the most watchful of the lot with his 16 from 65 balls but became Ball’s second scalp, struck on the pads.

After the last weather break, the hosts were given a 13 over mini-session to navigate – perfectly steered through by Sean Ervine and youngster Tom Alsop and their 65-run partnership.

Alsop – who scored two 150s for the second XI last week – in particular looked in good touch to end on one short of a county championship best with 32 not out, while Ervine reached a quality unbeaten 38.

– ALEX SMITH

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