Worcestershire captain Joe Leach removes Hampshire opener Lewis McManus
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl (day one):
Hampshire 290: Berg 75*, Vince 75; Leach 4-42
Worcestershire 40-2: Edwards 1-2
Worcestershire (3 pts) trail Hampshire (3 pts) by 250 runs

Worcestershire’s bowlers fought back well against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl, before Gareth Berg’s half-century ensured a relatively even first day of the 2018 County Championship season.

The hosts raced to 122-2, led by James Vince’s 75 off 74 balls.

But once the England batsman was bowled by Steve Magoffin, it started a collapse of seven wickets for 120 runs.

Berg hit 75 not out batting at number eight, to help the hosts make 290, before Worcestershire closed on 40-2.

It was a crucial innings by all-rounder Berg, who received excellent support from last man Fidel Edwards in a 10th-wicket stand of 48.

The former West Indies paceman batted for 44 minutes in gloomy conditions and had scored just a solitary run when he edged Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach behind.

Leach, who led his side to the Division Two title last season, was the visitors’ standout bowler with 4-42 including the dismissal of debutant Sam Northeast for 17.

Earlier, Vince had looked in fine touch, striking 14 boundaries, but was out to a ball that nipped back from Australian seamer Magoffin just before lunch.

In the midst of their afternoon collapse, South Africa batsman Hashim Amla grinded his way to 36 on debut before he was pinned lbw by fast bowler Josh Tongue.

Berg’s 101-ball innings took Hampshire from 242-9 to a more competitive first-innings score, and Worcestershire lost Brett D’Oliveira and Tom Fell before stumps.

Hampshire all-rounder Gareth Berg: “I think at the beginning of the day 350 would be an excellent score with it being early season, but in the end we are happy with just under 300.

“It always seems to happen that there are clusters of wickets which is easy on wickets like that with it nibbling around – there is always a ball with your name on out there.

“It is something I’ve had to do my whole career the number I bat at, and I find it difficult to be honest, it doesn’t come easy to me.

“It was a lottery with the big hits, I chose which ball I wanted to hit and it was lucky they bowled it in the right area.

“We recognised as a bowling unit we bowled a little too short in those 18 overs.

“Tomorrow depends on the first hour, it might be where the game goes. If we start well and nick a few it would be helpful.”

Worcestershire captain Joe Leach: “On the whole it was a positive day but there are certainly a few things we need to improve on.

“We had two 45 minute sessions which were frustrating that we couldn’t knock that over for 250 after we worked so hard to claw the game back.

“Considering that was our first bowl in a match situation for three weeks it is very promising and we looked every inch a Division One side.

“I thought the second session was phenomenal from us and if we can back that up through the season that will stand us in good stead.

“I am very happy with my figures. The first day is always a bit of a blur, you just get the ball and bowl.

“In the first session I was panicking a little bit that the ball was going around the park so was very pleased to recover.”

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