After the start was delayed by an hour while the ECB decided it was safe for the match to be played in light of a positive Covid test in the Hampshire camp, the bowlers soon prospered, writes BRIAN HALFORD.
Hampshire, put in, were all out for 89 before lunch, losing their last nine wickets for 45 runs as Will Rhodes took 5-23, Liam Norwell 2-13 and Craig Miles 2-25.
But they struck back to bowl top-of-the-table Warwickshire out for 116 (Mohammad Abbas 5-29, Keith Barker 5-43). Sam Hain (41, 102 balls) was the only batsman to pass 30 all day.
Hampshire reached 41 without loss - 24 in front - in their second innings at the close of a day which warranted a visit not from a pitch inspector but a batting inspector.
The track offered seamers some help, but nothing like as much suggested by the wicket-fest. Both sides were guilty of shots of an aggression ill-suited to the match situation.
After Warwickshire chose to bowl and Miles trapped Joe Weatherley lbw in the fifth over, Ian Holland and Tom Alsop took Hampshire to 44-1 before the innings imploded.
Rhodes was the catalyst with wickets in his first three overs. An away-cutter found Alsop's edge through to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess before Nick Gubbins and Liam Dawson slashed cuts to point.
Chemar Holder took his first wicket for the Bears when Holland (28 off 46 balls) edged to slip before Felix Organ edged to third slip where Chris Benjamin parried the ball to Rob Yates at first.
After Norwell added wickets with successive balls, James Vince's counter-attack ended when he skied Rhodes to fine leg where Norwell judged a steepling catch brilliantly.
Barker then soon inflicted damage on his former county, removing Yates lbw and Benjamin, caught at second slip.
Abbas, making his Championship return after impressing in Hampshire’s opening seven group games, had Dom Sibley and Rhodes caught in the cordon from successive balls, and when Matt Lamb nicked Barker it was 26-5.
Hain dug in but only Burgess, in a stand of 61 in 21 overs, offered much support before Abbas and Barker muscled through the lower order.
It was Barker’s second best first class haul for Hampshire – only beaten by his 6-72 at Taunton earlier this year – against the county for whom he took 14 first class hauls of five or more wickets between 2011-2018.
Curiously, after the double clatter, Weatherley and Holland then survived 11 overs with few alarms to take their side in front.
*Hampshire’s Keith Barker admits both sides took ‘some bad options’ as 20 wickets clattered on the first day of his Edgbaston return.
Barker was among the seamers who starred in the Division 1 Championship fixture, taking 5-43 as the hosts were dismissed for 116 after Hampshire had been routed for 89.
‘We probably didn't execute some shots as well as we'd like to which put us under a bit of pressure,’ said Barker.
‘Fortunately when we got the ball we were able to hit some good areas and make them make some mistakes.
‘For both sides there were some good balls in there but also some bad options taken with the bat.
‘Both sides have come in way below par with the bat. It happens, even on the best of wickets it can happen, so it is just about making sure you keep yourself in the game which we managed to do.’
Warwickshire coach Mark Robinson added: ‘It was a bizarre day. To come to the ground in bright sunshine thinking you’re going to play to then be thinking you might not play and then to see 20 wickets fall in a day was incredible really.
‘It was not the best quality batting from either team, though there was some great bowling at times. The game is even steven and we have got everything to play for.
‘Both batting teams will be disappointed to get out for the scores they did, though Abbas is a high quality performer and his spell was exceptional, backed up by Barks.
‘There was some good bowling but both teams will want to be better with the bat second time round.’