Hampshire tumble to defeat in curtain-raiser

Michael Bates struck 87. Picture: Neil Marshall

Michael Bates struck 87. Picture: Neil Marshall

Luke Wright

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The Rose Bowl may now be known as the Ageas Bowl but the new name made little difference to Hampshire’s miserable home record as they started the 2012 campaign with defeat to Gloucestershire.

After last season’s relegation from County Championship division one, the new streamlined squad – still brimming with quality – were expected to mount a real challenge to regain their top-flight status. They may well yet do so.

But a defeat in their opening encounter against a side who were despatched inside two days by Essex last week will have done little to inspire confidence.

Hampshire at least showed some fight in dragging themselves back into contention with another impressive bowling display on the final morning.

With the visitors picking up on 129 for five after a rain-affected day three, a productive morning session saw them bowled out for 174 – setting Hampshire 290 to win in 80 overs.

It was certainly not beyond the realms of possibility if the batsmen delivered.

But another limp effort from the top order saw the home side in disarray at 72 for six and staring down the barrel of defeat.

Michael Bates (87) and Chris Wood (65) gave the hosts hope with a partnership of 118 for the seventh wicket.

Hamza Riazuddin (28) also joined Bates for a stand worth 56 as Hampshire suddenly got themselves into a position to potentially win.

But in the end it was left to Danny Briggs and David Balcombe to see out the remaining five overs to claim a draw – only to come up 12 balls short.

Balcombe may have excelled with the ball in his hand in this game – taking 11 wickets – but he’s no miracle-worker with a bat.

He certainly did his job here. Others, however, did not.

Most within the club talked about how important it would be to make a fast start to the new campaign and sweep away the cobwebs of last season’s relegation.

So this week’s trip to Glamorgan now suddenly takes on real significance.

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