Crane backs Hampshire batsmen to dig in deep

Hampshire face a tense final day as they bid to preserve their County Championship division one status against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 8:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th September 2017, 2:09 pm
Mason Crane believes Hampshire can avoid relegation. Picture: Neil Marshall

The Ageas Bowl side finished on 20 for one at stumps today in their second innings – 238 runs behind the hosts.

The equation for James Vince’s troops is simple.

A victory or a draw against already-relegated Warwickshire would salvage Hampshire’s first division status, but a defeat would mean they follow their hosts down to division two.

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Leg-spinner Mason Craine – who has been called up for England’s winter Ashes squad – is adamant his side can hold their nerve tomorrow.

He said: ‘I’m backing the boys to dig in.

‘We have put ourselves into this position and we have got to get ourselves out of it.

‘It would have been nice to bat a bit better in the first innings and be chasing a few less, but it hasn’t happened and we have just got to forget it.

‘We need another 240-odd and have just got to focus on that and come back and win.

‘It is interesting how six months of cricket comes down to one day.

‘This happened last year and we didn’t get over the line last year so, hopefully, this time we can do it.

‘Hopefully the batters are feeling determined and we can come back tomorrow, score the runs and go home knowing we are still in division one.’

Trailing by 72 runs at the start of play, Hampshire made a dream start at Edgbaston.

The Ageas Bowl outfit’s bowlers dominated and put the hosts on the back foot.

Gareth Berg took three wickets in 13 balls as Jonathan Trott (20) nicked an outswinger behind, Matt Lamb (nought) was dismissed lbw and Tim Ambrose (nought) edged to second slip.

Alex Thomson struck a valuable 24 but Kyle Abbott sent him packing with the final ball before lunch, before dismissing Jeetan Patel with the first ball after the interval.

But former England international Ian Bell (77 not out) proved to be a thorn in Hampshire’s side and rolled back the years with a flamboyant knock.

He shared a 10th-wicket stand of 59 with Ryan Sidebottom (13) and the duo guided Warwickshire to a total of 186 all out.

It was paramount Hampshire did not lose a wicket before the close of play.

Tom Alsop (six not out)and Jimmy Adams (four) were cautious opening the batting and the latter was caught by Dominic Sibley off the bowling of Oliver Hannon-Dalby.

The rain soon arrived to wipe out the final session and Hampshire must battle hard tomorrow if they are to avoid relegation.