Piper calls tune as Hampshire fall flat

barrie fairall reports from Southampton Hampshire 225 Warwickshire 429-6
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It was fun in the sun for some, though Hampshire may have discovered an inkling of what it takes to serve in the Foreign Legion.

On their parched parade ground here, meanwhile, any spit and polish applied to the ball had little effect and one wicket in the first two sessions said it all yesterday as Warwickshire went about their business.

All Hampshire could do was grin and bear it as Warwickshire, seeking a ninth win in 12 matches in their battle to retain the Championship, batted and battered the opposition towards submission.

Cardigan Connor's two wickets in two deliveries may have hinted at an upset the previous evening, but when a new day dawned those on fielding duty were left chasing leather.

Keith Piper, four catches and a stumping already to his name in this match, set the tone as night-watchman. Having signed off against Heath Streak with four sucessive sumptuous boundaries, he continued the good work in a flourishing partnership with Wasim Khan and he appeared set for a first century of the summer when he reached 99 with a lovely late cut for four off Shaun Udal.

Two balls later, though, and the spinner was celebrating the only wicket of the opening session as Piper was surprised by a quicker one. By then, the third-wicket partnership had progressed to 148 in 37 overs and Hampshire were growing hot under the collar. That was as much to do with the weather as the succession of costly errors that kept Wasim at the crease.

The left-hander, as patient as they come, survived a run-out attempt and three dropped chances. All of which added up to a maiden century, spread over five hours, and beyond. As Hampshire's punishment continued, Trevor Penney passed 80, Wasim went on past 150 and the prolific pair plundered a double century for the fourth wicket.