Bears ride high on Barker five-for

Warwickshire fast bowler Keith Barker sliced through the Hampshire top order with a five wicket haul to give the visitors the upper hand on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship season at the Ageas Bowl.

Barker became the first man to reach the milestone in 2016, he ended the day with figures of 5-44 – before Hampshire reached 189 for eight, thanks mainly to a patient rearguard knock of 84 not out by Ryan McLaren.

Seamer Barker was given the best possible start on a green-tinged swinging pitch, when under the new regulations Ian Bell elected to bowl without a toss.

And he rewarded his captain with a wicket in his 13th delivery, a beautiful ball which caught the edge of Michael Carberry’s bat before stinging Tim Ambrose’s gloves.

Just five deliveries later, the same combination came together to see off young opener Tom Alsop, who tickled an inside edge through to the keeper.

Barker notched the third of his ferocious opening spell from the Hotel End when Will Smith tapped straight to short-leg Sam Hain. Boyd Rankin took over from the wicket taking end and found James Vince mistiming a leading edge to Hain in the covers.

Barker completed his haul with the wickets of Liam Dawson and Sean Ervine – both lbw – to leave the hosts struggling at 66 for six at lunch.

McLaren led a fight back for the hosts with a stout half century, coming off 88 balls, and was helped by genuine tailenders Reece Topley and James Tomlinson once Adam Wheater had been given out leg before to Rikki Clarke.

McLaren and Topley, a winter recruit from Essex, put on a watchful 51 to build a platform and slow the fall of wickets. Topley departed for a first-class best of 15, beating his previous high of 12, when he was comprehensively bowled by England bowler Chris Woakes.

But Tomlinson continued where Topley left off with an unbeaten stand of 51 – although the Hampshire man was given two lifelines. First he was dropped by a sloppy Jeetan Patel at second slip before Varun Chopra put down a sharp chance at gully in the next over – both with the batsman on 12.

Dark clouds and imminent rain called an early end to the first day of the season – with Hampshire 11 runs shy of an unlikely batting point.

Barker said after the day’s play: “It was a brilliant start for me, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

“The lads have bowled really well and stayed in there. We have scrapped quite a bit and they made it quite difficult for us towards the end of the day.

“But we would have taken that score before the start of the day, things are looking good.”

Hampshire director of cricket Giles White said: “It was a difficult start. If you lose six wickets in the first session it is far from ideal but credit to Warwickshire, I thought they bowled well from ball one.

“They put us under pressure but we fought back well at the end of the day. Ryan McLaren was fantastic under the circumstances and he was well supported by the lower order as well.

“There is a long way to go we need to keep batting get the bonus point and then bowl well with the new ball.”

Source: ECB

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