Late resistance saves Hampshire

Will Smith in action today. Picture: Neil Marshall
Will Smith in action today. Picture: Neil Marshall
England's Mason Crane will make his England Test debut when the fifth Ashes Test begins at Sydney Cricket Ground tonight

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Another day, another Hampshire batting collapse.

After Sunday’s Natwest T20 Blast misery, where Hampshire were bowled out for just 116 in a heavy defeat to Somerset, the fears over a possible Championship hangover were realised as Gloucestershire dominated day one of the contest at the Ageas Bowl.

From a healthy position of 144 for two, seven wickets then tumbled for the addition of just 38 runs in a disastrous evening session.

It was hardly a fitting tribute on the day the club celebrated its 150th anniversary.

But the doom and gloom was lifted after some tremendous late resistance from David Balcombe (38 not out) and James Tomlinson (33 not out) as an excellent unbroken last-wicket partnership took them beyond the 200-mark and a solitary batting bonus point to put a different complexion on matters.

Although it was another green-looking pitch, there appeared to be nothing to worry about as Michael Carberry (39) and Jimmy Adams (43) built a 69-run opening stand without too many concerns after Hampshire lost the toss and were invited to bat.

After Carberry was undone by two of his former team-mates – edging to Adam Rouse from a Benny Howell delivery – Will Smith (45) looked like he was there for a lengthy stay with an assured knock before he was bowled without playing a stroke.

Adams had already departed by that stage, while James Vince (25) looked to have rediscovered some form before he was trapped lbw by Liam Norwell (four for 71).

And it was Vince’s departure with the score on 144 that sparked a clatter of wickets as Smith, Sean Ervine (nought), the recalled Joe Gatting (six), Adam Wheater (eight), Kyle Abbott (eight) and Danny Briggs (one) all left almost as quickly as they had arrived in a dreadful spell for the home side.

While there were some poor strokes played, credit must also go to the Gloucestershire bowlers, who stuck to their task well.

But staring down the barrel of a sub-200 first innings score, Balcombe and Tomlinson played intelligently – while enjoying the occasional slice of luck – as they navigated their way beyond 200.

Having achieved the first objective, they quickly set their sights on the 250-mark and began to enjoy themselves in the final half an hour of play, reaching the second point in the penultimate over of the day. as Tomlinson nudged a single through the covers.

But there were also plenty of boundaries as the duo shared eight between them in equal measure, while Balcombe showed plenty of courage after he was caught with a fiery bouncer that clattered into his head.

Quite how the number 10 and 11 batsmen managed to put on 69 runs for the final wicket will be a question asked by both the Hampshire and Gloucestershire coaching staff?

But it could prove a vital contribution over the next three days as Hampshire aim to boost their promotion bid.