Giles stays positive
Warwickshire director of cricket Ashley Giles remained upbeat despite seeing his side’s LV= County Championship title ambitions suffer a dent on the second day of their match against struggling Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.
The Division One leaders were held up by an 80-minute rain delay as they progressed to 493 all out in their first innings and then saw their opponents reach 57 without loss in reply.
A flat pitch appears unlikely to provide Warwickshire with too much assistance in the remaining two days, but Giles, whose side led Lancashire by three points heading into the final round of fixtures, believes they can still prevail.
The former England spinner told ecb.co.uk: “If we want to win the game we’ve got to get 20 wickets. That was always our plan: to try and get a score and bowl them out twice.
“It looks a pretty good deck so it’s going to be hard work, but you never expect it to be easy.
“I guess it’s quite edgy for everyone, trying to keep your eyes off what’s going on elsewhere in the country. You can’t predict anything, we’ve just got to come back tomorrow and do our job.”
Warwickshire’s cause could be helped by Worcestershire’s dramatic collapse at Durham today, which keeps alive Hampshire’s slim hopes of survival.
The south coast side must win and claim maximum batting points to have any chance of avoiding relegation, but Giles was keen to play down the possibility of a run-chase being set up on the final day should Hampshire pass 400 in their first innings.
“It might come down to that, but at the moment we’ve just got to keep going route one, which is try to bowl them out in the first innings and then go again,” he added.
“It will be hard work, but it might just do a little bit more in the morning. It did this morning after the pitch had been under the covers, so hopefully it will go around and we will get some wickets.”
Many observers were surprised by the lack of urgency shown by Warwickshire this morning as they failed to secure a fourth batting bonus point, having resumed on 296 for three off 96 overs.
Giles explained: “It was all about the bigger picture, getting a big score and putting them under pressure.”
However, Hampshire seamer Dimitri Mascarenhas, who proved particularly difficult to score off in returning figures of 3-52 from 34 overs, admitted to being puzzled by the visitors’ approach.
“I was a bit surprised with the way they went about it,” he said. “At three down overnight, they could have easily accelerated and got to their mark a lot quicker than they did.
“But, obviously, in their position they just needed to bat and with the way Lancashire were going they were probably thinking ‘it’s a draw over there; we just have to get a draw here.’
“You can understand it from their point of view, but if it was me I would still be wanting to win the game and I would have pushed on a lot earlier than they did.”
Although pleased with their efforts today, Mascarenhas offered a realistic appraisal of Hampshire’s survival prospects.
When asked about Worcestershire’s failure to claim the third batting point that would have relegated his side, Mascarenhas replied: “It always looked like they were going to get there, but they obviously had a bit of a collapse and it gives us a glimmer of hope, but not a lot.
“We’ve got to bat well as we’re a long way behind. We’ve made a good start, but there’s still a long way to go.
“We’ve got to, first and foremost, focus on what we have got to do, which is bat well, and hope Worcestershire continue on the way they are going.
“If we do go down we haven’t gone down because of the last game of the season. It’s all that’s gone before.”