Hales holds upper hand as Hampshire toil

Brendan Taylor is bowled by Danny Briggs. Picture: Neil Marshall
Brendan Taylor is bowled by Danny Briggs. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Hampshire’s hopes of making a fast start to their Championship home clash with Nottinghamshire were held up by a fine unbeaten century from Alex Hales.

The talented England man hit 136 not out as the visitors motored to 301 for six on day one of the encounter at the Ageas Bowl.

On the evidence of the scoreboard alone, it was a mistake that skipper Jimmy Adams opted to field first after winning the toss.

But the overcast skies in the morning will have played a big part in his decision.

Although it was murky, the low temperatures failed to give too much assistance to the attack, which still looks short of a strike bowler in the continued absence of overseas player Jackson Bird.

With the Australian now ruled out for several weeks, Hampshire have turned to Fidel Edwards to fill the gap but he won’t be considered until they play Yorkshire in a fortnight’s time.

They will also go back to the drawing board in their attempts to recruit another bowler with the West Indies man only available for a short stint before the Caribbean Premier League.

Regardless of Hampshire’s bowling problems, when a batsman is in the kind of form that Hales is in – fresh from his 236 against Yorkshire in the last fixture – it can make any attack look decidedly ordinary.

Hampshire had to wait for their first wicket of the match as their seamers toiled without making the breakthrough.

It was spinner Danny Briggs – who has often been deemed as surplus to requirements at this early stage of the season in the past – who struck the first blow, finding a way through Brendan Taylor’s defence to end the 61-run opening partnership.

But Hales settled in alongside Steven Mullaney (61), rattling the score along to 145 before Adam Wheater took a fine flying catch from Sean Ervine’s bowling.

It paved the way for a decent response from Hampshire as they made inroads at the other end.

James Taylor (10) got a top-edge to an attempted sweep in Liam Dawson’s first over to present an easy catch to Ervine.

Andre Adams picked up a wicket against his former county as he removed the dangerous Samit Patel (four), with Dawson taking a catch.

And the Hampshire all-rounder was the safe pair of hands again when Gareth Berg (two for 68) collected the first of his two wickets to dismiss Riki Wessels (17).

Chris Read (four) then fell relatively cheaply to give the home side further encouragement.

But Hales, dropped on 84 by Ervine as a sharp chance went down from Dawson’s bowling, who continued on to reach three figures from 156 balls.

At 261 for six and with two bonus points in the bag, another quick couple of wickets might have swayed the day back in Hampshire’s favour, especially if they had found a way to remove Hales.

But Will Gidman (22 not out) then stuck around at the other end as Nottinghamshire went through the 300-barrier to claim a third bonus point and put themselves ahead of the game going into day two.