Final-day woe for Warwickshire
Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie each compiled centuries as relegated Hampshire ended Warwickshire’s LV= County Championship title dream at the Rose Bowl.
Jim Troughton’s team began the final day of the season as strong favourites to pip Lancashire to top spot, having reduced their hosts - who were made to follow on - to 43 for three in their second innings yesterday.
However, while the Red Rose completed a thrilling run-chase to seal victory at Taunton, Warwickshire endured misery as Hampshire batted out the final day with relative ease, closing 158 ahead on 327 for seven.
Carberry dominated a fourth-wicket stand of 182 with McKenzie before falling lbw to Chris Woakes for 111 midway through the afternoon.
By that stage Hampshire’s positive approach had seen them establish a lead of 41 and, with McKenzie, who finished unbeaten on 115 from 233 balls, providing an obdurate barrier for the remainder of the day, the visitors were unable to respond.
Perennial strong finishers, Warwickshire, who only retained their top-flight status last summer courtesy of a late upturn in form, were hoping to secure a piece of silverware in their last match for the fourth consecutive season.
Instead they will reflect on what might have been, although their failure to secure the title should not detract from their fine efforts this summer.
The last Warwickshire side to be crowned champions, in 2004, recorded five victories from their 16 games. This year, Troughton’s men were victorious on nine occasions, yet still fell short.
Carberry and McKenzie appeared in little discomfort as they scored freely in the opening hour, although the former survived a huge lbw appeal on 38 when he played back to Chris Metters and was rapped on the pads. Replays showed umpire Michael Gough had made the correct call, the batsman having been struck just outside off stump.
Carberry used his feet to good effect to strike an emphatic straight six in the same bowler’s next over and McKenzie appeared in similarly good touch as the century partnership arrived from just 141 balls.
While McKenzie was content to operate watchfully, his left-handed partner continued to take the attack to Warwickshire and found the boundary with regularity.
As lunch approached, and with his side now ahead, Carberry’s scoring rate finally slowed.
He looked to have been caught behind off Metters for 92, but umpire Gough once again reached the correct verdict, with the batsman’s bat having brushed the ground rather than the ball.
Hampshire ended the morning session on 178 for three and McKenzie soon passed 50 upon the resumption before driving Rikki Clarke down the ground in glorious fashion to register his seventh four.
A nudge into the covers off Metters took Carberry to 100 moments later, from 152 deliveries, and much of the life appeared to have drained from the surface, as well as Warwickshire’s toiling attack.
However, the visitors were given renewed hope with the score on 210 when Woakes won an lbw verdict against Carberry, who was given out despite being struck above the knee roll.
New batsman James Vince wasted little time in finding his feet, cracking Woakes through the covers for three glorious fours.
Ian Westwood, who had earlier been hit on the thigh at short-leg by a Carberry sweep, was then struck on the helmet as Vince looked to find the boundary off Metters.
The left-arm spinner had endured a difficult day, but finally broke through when Vince, on 35, picked out Boyd Rankin at deep backward square with a slog-sweep.
With the new ball being taken immediately after tea, when Hampshire were 93 ahead, Warwickshire had one last chance to reawaken their challenge, with Lancashire having begun their pursuit of 211 against Somerset.
Hampshire held firm, however, McKenzie receiving support from Sean Ervine, who grinded his way to 20 from 91 deliveries.
McKenzie brought up his hundred from the final ball of the 96th over, courtesy of a clip to the square-leg fence off Chris Wright.
Ervine was bowled through his legs soon after by a Metters delivery that kept low and Michael Bates followed, plumb lbw, to the next ball, but that merely delayed the inevitable shaking of hands.