Young Warwickshire defied by veteran Pothas
Hampshire 310 for 7 (Pothas 83*, Carberry 77, Miller 3-70) v Warwickshire
Perhaps it was fitting that it was an anglicised South African who should defy Warwickshire. While Warwickshire's director of cricket, Ashley Giles, has spoken of the need to back young, English-qualified cricketers, it was 35-year-old Nic Pothas who dominated the opening day of this Championship match.
Pothas, who played international cricket for South Africa before qualifying for England, batted very well. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the debate, his presence undoubtedly strengthens the Hampshire side and, by defying a green pitch and even greener attack, he earned his side a slender advantage going into day two.
Giles has admitted that his words have "come back to haunt me" this week. After lobbying for tighter regulation on the registration of overseas players, Giles has been frustrated in his attempts to secure a work permit for New Zealand off-spinner, Jeetan Patel. Already depleted by injuries, Warwickshire were obliged to field an attack led by three young English-qualified seamers with a combined experience of just 20 championship matches.
Generally they acquitted themselves well. Inexperience may have resulted in a few more 'four balls' than normal but, on a pitch offering some movement but little pace, they reined-in the visitors after a brisk start and will have largely vindicated Giles' view that good youngsters will flourish if given the opportunity.
Boyd Rankin was the pick of the attack. Generating pace and lift, he disconcerted all the batsmen and fully deserved the wicket of Jimmy Adams, caught in the slips prodding at one that bounced more than he expected, and Sean Ervine, who was softened up by a series of short balls and then pinned by a fuller one. Rankin may remain raw and doubts over his fitness may persist, but he possesses something special and could, in time, develop into a worthy alternative to Steve Harmison in the England team.
Andrew Miller impressed, too. Though not blessed with great pace, he uses his height well and found enough movement to suggest he could carve out a future at this level.
Hampshire, however, will feel they didn't fully capitalise on a promising position. At 115 for one, they had the foundations for a formidable total but were undone by lateral movement and poor concentration. It was the wicket of Michael Carberry that precipitated the decline. Carberry had looked in fine touch, feasting off some uncharacteristically wayward bowling from Chris Woakes and appearing to have a century for the taking. He had been particularly harsh on Rikki Clarke, whose filthy first spell cost 28 runs as Carberry pulled a succession of long-hops to (or over) the boundary.
Miller produced a beauty, however, to make the breakthrough. Angling one across the left-hander, he first induced a thin edge from Carberry, before Crawley fenced at one that bounced and left him. Maddy persuaded Marcus North to follow one he could have left, before Clarke, who has much to do to win over an underwhelmed Warwickshire membership, produced a much better spell to dismiss Liam Dawson, well caught off a top-edged pull. Cork's innings ended when he drove impatiently to cover.
Pothas remained, however. Compact in defence, he rode the bounce well, yet was still quick to seize on anything full and drove effectively. On a day when Warwickshire's young players proved more than a match for his team-mates, Pothas proved the value of experience.
Meanwhile, there was encouraging news for Warwickshire off the pitch. A productive meeting between planning officers and councillors took place and the club remain hopeful that they will be granted planning permission when the Birmingham City Planning Committee meet again in mid-May.
Warwickshire's plans for the redevelopment of Edgbaston were recently deferred by planners after objections from local residents. The club insist work must begin later this year if the ground is to meet international standards and warn that the club will not be sustainable in a recognisable state if it does not.