Warwickshire v Hampshire, Edgbaston, 2nd day April 28, 2010

Woakes hundred tilts the balance

George Dobell at Edgbaston

Hampshire 283 and 3 for 0 v Warwickshire 382

A high-class century from Chris Woakes led a spirited Warwickshire fightback on the second day of the championship match with Hampshire at Edgbaston. From the depths of 98 for 7, Woakes helped Warwickshire add 284 for the last three wickets, recording century stands for the ninth and tenth wickets.

It was a highly impressive innings from a 21-year-old with a bright future. Woakes may have made his name as a fine swing bowler, but his batting also promises much. This, his second first-class century, was studded with pulls and drives that bore the hallmark of real class and underlined the impression that Warwickshire have developed an all-rounder of great potential.

Already he has largely filled the gaping hole left at Edgbaston by the retirement of Dougie Brown and his efforts earned Warwickshire the upper hand in a game that had appeared beyond them.

Can Woakes prosper at international level? Perhaps. While he lacks the pace of most Test bowlers, he is no slower than Chaminda Vaas and, with the ability to swing the ball both ways at will, will trouble most batsmen in the right conditions. On this evidence, he is also every bit good enough to bat at seven.

He showed some character here, too. Coming to the crease with his side in disarray, he timed the ball delightfully from the start and, by taking a positive approach, appeared to unsettle Hampshire's gameplan.

Woakes (200 balls, 17 fours and two sixes) was lent good support, first by Tim Ambrose, then by Neil Carter and finally by Imran Tahir. Though Ambrose undid much of the good impression he had made by upper cutting obligingly to the man placed for the shot at third-man, Carter (80 balls, eight fours and a six) counter-attacked in typically ferocious style and Imran (45 balls, seven fours and one six) chanced his arm against his former county with good effect.

The ninth-wicket partnership was a new county record against this opposition, overhauling the stand of 88 set by the splendidly named Rusty Scorer and Gerard Rotherham here in 1921.

Hampshire, however, will reflect that they played a significant hand in their own downfall. Not only did they squander a series of chances in the field, but they became ragged and rattled as a game that was at their mercy slipped away.

Where the bowlers had been content to aim for the top of off-stump and allow a pitch that remains helpful to do the rest, they suddenly attempted to bounce out Warwickshire. At one stage Imran, a fellow without too many batting pretensions, thrashed 14 in three balls off James Tomlinson, with an upper cut six the highlight.

Hampshire must bitterly dislike playing against Woakes, too. His other first-class century was also against them and, in three first-class games, he has scored 275 runs without being dismissed.

Woakes was on 77 when the ninth-wicket fell. Sensing he would need to accelerate if he were to reach his century, he drove two sixes over cover off Griffiths and also unleashed a thunderous drive, on the up, off Kabir Ali.

Hampshire wilted under the assault. Though their bowlers had little luck - with a series of edges flying agonisingly wide of fielders - their catching was simply poor. If the most costly miss came when Woakes, on nine, edged Kabir between second and third slip, the most embarrassing came when Carberry missed a 'dolly' off Imran Tahir. Warwickshire added another 50 damaging runs before Imran finally ran out of luck and edged another attempted slash over the slips.

Woakes' performance was in marked contrast to his top-order colleagues. Warwickshire's specialist batsmen were, not for the first time this season, swept aside with alarming ease through a mixture of good bowling and feckless batting. At one stage they lost three wickets in six balls without adding a run.

Though there was little that Darren Maddy could do about the beauty that bounced and left him, the rest had less excuse. Jonathan Trott tried to play an outswinger through mid-wicket and sent a leading edge to slip, Ian Bell was punished for chasing a wide one, Rikki Clarke edged a lavish drive and Ant Botha fished at one he could have left. With Jim Troughton leg before to a fast, straight ball, Warwickshire had lost five wickets for 22 runs.

At that stage, Kabir had figures of four for 16. Very well he had bowled, too. Swinging the ball at a decidedly brisk pace, he richly deserved the third successive five-wicket haul that would have been his if only his slip cordon had not proved so porous. If there's a better bowler in county cricket, this writer has not seen them.

"I've worked very hard on my batting," Woakes said afterwards. "I'd like to bat at seven ideally and be considered a genuine all-rounder. I think I've added some pace to my bowling over the winter, but it's not been. I don't want to add 5 mph and find that I've lost my swing. It's nice when I hear people saying I could play for England, but it's not something I dwell on. If I keep taking wickets for Warwickshire, that will take care of itself."

Meanwhile Hampshire are giving a trial to Ashfaq Afridi, brother of Pakistan's Shahid Afridi. Ashfaq, who has a British wife, is not classed as an overseas player.

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