Long day in the field for Hampshire but Birrell is pleased with determined effort to slow Yorkshire down

Hampshire had to really dig in to avoid conceding a massive opening-day score to Yorkshire in the County Championship clash at the Ageas Bowl.

Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:35 am
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:37 am
Fidel Edwards. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Joe Root continued his strong Ashes preparations with a third score of over 50 in as many innings in the competition this season.

But he was outshone by Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance's century.

England Test captain Root had scored 73 and 130 not out against Nottinghamshire in the opening round of the Championship before scoring adroitly on the opening day at the Ageas Bowl.

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He fell six runs short of a deserved century, although partner Ballance did continue his liking for the Ageas Bowl with an unbeaten 120.

Yorkshire reached stumps on 310 for three but Hampshire team boss Adi Birrell was definitely pleased with what he saw in the final stages of the day.

He said: ‘It was a long day for us. It looked like a really good batting wicket so I was really concerned at the toss.

“They have a good batting side and their two Test batsmen got in and went quite bit. It was a toil.

“I am really proud of the way the guys fought in the last session. Before lunch they were going at nearly four an over and the challenge was to claw it back so to go at 2.5 in the last session with two Test players in was outstanding.’

Everything pointed towards a run filled day, with blue skies, a flat wicket and memories of Hampshire piling up 525 against Essex on a similar looking surface earlier in the week.

It therefore came as little surprise when Steven Patterson elected to have a toss, which he duly won and decided to bat.

Birrell added: ‘I went and stood behind and had a look at it wasn’t doing a lot and was quite slow – so it was hard to get wickets there.

‘There is the concern Yorkshire will do what we did to Essex but we look at our batters and they are all in form. There is no reason why we can’t make them toil as well.

‘It will be a good test of our character and where we are at in the four-day game. It will be hard to win from here so we need to get in and bat long. It will be a challenge and hopefully we will be up for it.’

Fidel Edwards grabbed a five-wicket haul, before ending with an eight-for, in the innings victory over Essex and continue his fiery form with the new ball.

And the West Indian fast bowler struck in the seventh over as Harry Brook chopped onto his own stumps.

Adam Lyth started the day of milestones by reaching his 10,000th first class run with a crushing cover drive to the boundary.

The opener had begun his campaign with 81 in the draw at Trent Bridge and followed it up with 67 on the south coast – reaching the landmark in 68 balls.

But he fell before lunch when he gloved behind after Edwards had strangled him down the legside.

Ballance, though, has a long-standing love affair with the Ageas Bowl.

Before this match, the left-hander averaged 73.86 across six Championship appearances – having scored two centuries and a match-saving double ton in his previous four innings.

Ballance also scored 156 in a Test match at the ground in 2014 to add to his spoils in West End.

He reached his 50 in 102 balls and seemingly without playing an attacking shot reached three figures 112 balls later – his 37th first class century.

Meanwhile, Root completed 50 in 97 balls – which included a brilliantly played skip down the ground and pump Liam Dawson for a six.

But Dawson eventually had the last laugh as he was rewarded for his 28 overs of hard work when he bowled Root with a crushing yorker.

Ballance, with night-watchman Patterson, saw out the rest of the day to keep Yorkshire well and truly on top.