Lightning strikes again for Hampshire on day one of new season

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Nic McMurray

Burridge stepped up to turn form book around

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On day one of a new Championship campaign in early April, showers are par for the course.

But while players going off the pitch for bad light is a regular sight, scuttling off for bad lightning is rather more rare.

That’s what happened at the Ageas Bowl in the final session of the opening day of Hampshire’s clash with Gloucestershire, though.

It was no surprise to see the players taken off early.

As the light closed in, hailstones and a major downpour eventually ensued.

But before the deluge, this new-look Hampshire side still carried many of the old traits of last season.

Perhaps lightning does strike twice in the same place after all?

Having won the toss and invited Gloucestershire to bat, skipper Jimmy Adams will have been happy with his decision at lunchtime.

The visitors were reduced to 22 for two and then 63 for three.

And when David Balcombe trapped Hamish Marshall lbw to leave them tottering at 87 for four, Hampshire must have had their sights set on bowling them out for 150.

But as was so often the case last season, Hampshire were unable to press home their advantage and make the most of a strong position.

When bad light eventually ended the day’s play, Gloucestershire had recovered to 195 for four.

Chris Dent (59 not out) and Ian Cockbain (52 not out) put on an unbroken partnership of 108, for a frustrating fifth-wicket stand.

Going into the season, Hampshire’s bowling attack was the main cause for concern.

And apart from a rejuvenated Balcombe – who impressed in taking three for 38 – Chris Wood and Hamza Riazuddin failed to take a wicket between them.

Balcombe – who was allowed out on loan to Kent for much of last year – struck the first blow of the new term.

He tempted Richard Coughtrie (four) to edge to Simon Katich at slip and then another fiery delivery accounted for Dan Housego, for a duck, as Michael Bates took the catch.

Sean Ervine chipped in to remove Alex Gidman (27).

But after Marshall was dismissed, Hampshire were then unable to make further inroads against a side who were thrashed by an innings by Essex in their opening fixture.

With Riazuddin preferred to David Griffiths, the home side look short on the kind of fire-power required to make a challenge for promotion.

At least their home track is now looking rather more like producing positive results, though, with a pitch that offers plenty for the bowlers.

With no home wins in Championship cricket last term, Hampshire know that things must improve.

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