Hampshire on top on day one
Hampshire had the better of the opening day of this LV= Insurance County Championship Division One match against a young Somerset side at the Ageas Bowl.
Already shorn of the likes of Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory, Josh Davey and Tom Banton, Somerset were dealt two further blows ahead of the toss when both Jack Brooks (illness) and George Bartlett (shoulder injury) were also declared unavailable.
So it was that Somerset’s only XI available players took to the field.
Things started off well for the visitors when Tom Abell won the toss and elected to bat first. Unfortunately, things didn’t not go according to plan as Somerset were all out for 180.
It wasn’t all bad news though as James Hildreth reminded everyone of his undoubted talent. The veteran batter made 87, his 126th First Class score over 50.
Hildreth found himself at the crease within 10 overs after Ben Green edged Muhammad Abbas to second slip before Kyle Abbott produced an away jagging delivery to find Abell’s edge where the catch was taken at third slip.
Ian Holland had Tom Lammonby caught behind, Lewis Goldsworthy was lbw to one which straightened from Abbas and Steven Davies was bowled by Keith Barker leaving the last ball of the morning.
Lunch saw Hampshire pay tribute to former captain Shane Warne, who died aged 52 last month, with a video played on the big screen and crowd members permitted on the outfield for a minute of applause.
The interval also saw Hampshire captain James Vince depart to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, with Abbott taking over the leadership. However, he found Hildreth an immovable object, alongside Roelof van der Merwe.
Hildreth has recorded at least one score of fifty or more in each County Championship season since 2004, and found fluency on a the Ageas Bowl pitch. Square either side of the wicket were the most profitable areas to score, with the cut shot a trademark. The shot that brought half-century, in 89 balls, was the perfect encapsulation of this, as it rocketed past point.
The Hildreth/van der Merwe combination raised the visitors from their 61 for five, to a healthy 134 for six. However, van der Merwe chopped James Fuller onto his own off stump before Liam Dawson struck with a straight one to see off Hildreth with his first delivery of the season.
The final three wickets fell for just a single run in 13 balls, as Barker had Peter Siddle caught at first slip and Marchant de Lange bowled while slogging, either side of Kasey Aldridge being bowled playing down the wrong line by Dawson.
Hampshire’s average first innings opening stand in 2021 was 26, which has led to pressure being put on Weatherley’s position in the team. Those worries about his selection felt less weighty, as he made his way through the evening session with Ian Holland. The homegrown batter rushed to an 83-ball half-century – his first since last July and 10th of his First Class career.
The hosts finished the day on 109 without loss, trailing by 71.
At the close of play, James Hildreth said: “You come into the first day of the season and everyone has high hopes, so to spend some time in the middle on a challenging surface feels great.
“I hit them alright today and it felt good. I’m hoping this is the start of a good run. I’ve flirted with form in the last few years, so it would be nice to have a purple patch.
“With the new ball it was challenging. They have a world-class bowling attack, so whenever they put things in the right areas with the new ball it was hard work.”
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