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Hants grateful for last-wicket heroics
IT was fitting that Hampshire should mark the 150th anniversary of the club’s first first-class match with a second batting collapse in as many days.
The first day of Hampshire’s LV County Championship match against Gloucestershire was not as ignominious as the events of July 7 1864, when the county were all out for 63 against Sussex.
Nor was it as bad as Sunday’s shambolic performance against Somerset in the Natwest T20 Blast, which saw Hampshire bowled out for 116.
Thankfully, they bookended the day with partnerships of 69, after an unbroken stand between James Tomlinson and David Balcombe ensured they recovered from 182-9 to reach stumps on 251-9.
But in between Hampshire lost seven wickets for 38 runs in 22 overs.
Jimmy Adams lost his fifth successive toss before he and Michael Carberry ensured there was no immediate T20 hangover as Hampshire progressed to 144-2 with few alarms.
The two catches taken by trialist Adam Rouse on his return to the Ageas Bowl, having been released by Hampshire last year, was the story of the afternoon session.
Rouse dismissed Hampshire’s two openers after Jimmy Adams lost his fifth successive toss.
Having caught Carberry (39), who got a nick as he attempted to withdraw his bat from former Hampshire teammate Benny Howell’s fourth ball, Rouse pouched a leg-side catch to see off Adams (43).
But there was no hint of what was to come. Smith had put on 46 with James Vince at nearly four an over. All was right with the world after the panic of 24 hours earlier.
Then Liam Norwell, a rookie right-arm seamer from Cornwall, shattered that illusion with 4-19 from 23 balls of his third spell.
The 22 year-old found the greentop to his liking after switching to the Pavilion End.
Hampshire hoped Kyle Abbott would get first use of it in his last LV County Championship before joining his South Africa teammates for two Tests in Sri Lanka.
Norwell certainly enjoyed it after coming on after tea, but he was helped by some poor batting.
Other than a half chance that a diving Rouse just failed to take, Vince was in good touch, stroking five fours in his 25 before he was trapped lbw playing no shot to Norwell’s fourth ball.
Smith (45) went in similar fashion in Norwell’s next over, bowled after leaving another delivery that came back into the right-hander.
Slow left-armer Tom Smith also impressed, taking two wickets in as many overs.
Sean Ervine went without scoring following a reflex one-handed catch at short leg. Joe Gatting, a surprise inclusion ahead of Michael Bates, was bowled for six.
Norwell was grateful for two more poor shots as he took wickets with the first ball of his next two overs.
Adam Wheater played an injudicious cut straight to point and Danny Briggs nicked a loose shot to second slip, to where Abbott top edged a cut.
Hampshire were on the ropes, but Tomlinson (33 not out) and Balcombe (38*), who was recalled in place of Matt Coles, showed the rest what was possible.
They enjoyed themselves, playing their shots and each registering four fours in scoring at faster than a run every other ball to ensure two batting points as well as a respectable total to bowl at.