Batsmen Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry continued their form as Hampshire worked hard to take a first day advantage against Middlesex at the Ageas Bowl. Skipper Adams scored his second fifty in three days with a patient 61 while Carberry kept the pressure on the Middlesex attack with a handsome 67.
Will Smith was another batsman who is enjoying his craft as he scored back-to-back Championship fifties – bring up his 52nd run with a boundary with the final ball of the day. The away side failed to take advantage of excellent fast bowling conditions after winning the toss – although there was an argument that the ball was swinging around too much.
Middlesex almost made the perfect start in the third over but Toby Roland-Jones failed to hit the stumps with a relatively simple run-out chance – as Adams was yards short of making his ground. Under overcast skies their were constant oohs and aahs from behind the wicket but Adams and opening partner Liam Dawson navigated the bowler friendly environment with relative easy. Dawson dodged a close leg before call as Steven Finn wrapped him on the pads with a low bounding delivery. The pair made a timely half century stand – brought up with a marvellous Dawson straight drive boundary – which came in the 14th over and marked successful opening hour in testing conditions.
After putting on 85 for the first stand, Dawson – who passed 4500 career first class runs when he past 30 – pushed behind after doing the hard work to see off the new ball, for 36. Opener Adams missed last week’s defeat at Yorkshire for the birth of his second son, Joshua, but struck an unbeaten fifty in Friday night’s T20 Blast victory against Essex – which was Hampshire’s first victory of the season.
The new father has also past the milestone in his last two County Championship matches and reached fifty again with a quickly run two – brought up after 122 deliveries.
Adams and former opening partner Carberry added 75 with some blistering hitting and some wayward bowling. Fast bowler James Harris is the country’s leading wicket taker – with 29 wickets in the first month of the season – and looked shaky early on, his first spell of three overs were effortlessly dispatched for 28. But he managed to produce a beauty to york the century hunting Adams who fell for a 150 ball 61.
Last season’s Division Two top scorer James Vince has made a habit of finding cheap ways to get out in 2015, and after getting another start of 27, he weakly swishing across the line to deep mid-on. Carberry, who missed out on a maiden ton for the season last week with an excellent 97, looked in top nick again as he reached fifty in 99 deliveries.
Carberry frustratingly edged behind to give Harris his second wicket of a mixed day, before Adam Wheater came and went after an unmemorable and scrappy knock. Smith was another batsman who scored fifty at Headingley and he reached an unassuming accumulation of 52 not out, his half-century coming from 123 balls. With heavy rain forecast for the remainder of the match, a first win back in Division One is unlikely for Hampshire notwithstanding their fine opening day.
Middlesex’s Neil Dexter said: “I don’t think we have bowled badly at all. Finny beat the bat a few times but saying that there weren’t enough consecutive balls in the right area.
“It’s one of those wickets where if you bowl in the right areas you will take wickets but if you don’t its hard to control the runs.
“We went too short and then went too full and we didn’t bowl in partnerships which let us down.
“We are still in it and we fought back well towards the end and strung some overs together and it shows that when you do that the pressure comes with the wickets.”