Two catches spilled in the slips just about summed up Worcestershire's performance here. Already at the straw-clutching stage, they needed to take every chance to put Hampshire under a bit of pressure but, instead, allowed Michael Carberry to slide from their grasp and supervise a seven-wicket victory.
Daryl Mitchell was the guilty fielder, and Kabir Ali the unlucky bowler, on both occasions. Neither chance was easy – the first barely carrying and the other, off a fierce cut, flashing through at around head height – but if Carberry had fallen for either four or 15 then the hosts might just have wobbled in pursuit of a victory target of 106. As it was, Carberry went on to make 58, almost completing the job with the help of John Crawley after James Adams had pushed down the wrong line against spinner Gareth Batty.
Even then, appropriately enough for a match in which few batsmen have looked truly comfortable, two wickets fell in the space of five balls with the finishing line in sight. Carberry played on against Mitchell and Michael Lumb completed a "pair" by spooning the medium-pacer to backward square leg.
The good news for Hampshire, on top of launching their First Division campaign with a win inside three days, is that they have plenty of power to add. The Australian batsman Marcus North arrives next week, captain and senior all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas will return after the Indian Premier League and last season's leading bowler, Imran Tahir, is due to take on the overseas slot come June.
As for Worcestershire, the road ahead appears hard after last year's promotion. Although Graeme Hick supplied fewer than 700 Championship runs in his final season before retirement, the middle order looks fragile without him – and their just arrived overseas recruit is a bowler, Australian Ashley Noffke. "It will take time to replace Graeme but I'm happy with the look of our top six," insisted beaten captain Vikram Solanki.
Only his half-century prevented Worcestershire from losing inside two days. But his ultimately tame dismissal yesterday – cutting James Tomlinson straight to point after making 73 – ended the visitors' hopes of setting what could have been a tricky target. Instead, they were all out for 189 with debut-maker Dominic Cork capturing his sixth wicket of the match when bowling Matt Mason with a slower ball.