|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl (day one):|
|Hampshire 149: Clarke 5-21, Clark 3-50|
|Surrey 143-7: Pope 68, Clarke 35*; Barker 3-28|
|Surrey (3 pts) trail Hampshire (2 pts) by six runs|
Surrey all-rounder Rikki Clarke claimed his 500th first-class wicket to help bowl out Hampshire for just 149 on the opening day at the Ageas Bowl.
But the home side fought back with the ball to reduce Surrey to 143-7 at the close, despite Ollie Pope’s 68.
Hampshire paid the price for a series of poor strokes as Clarke and Jordan Clark (3-50) cleaned them up.
But Surrey also found batting tough before Pope and Clarke (35 not out) put on 72 to trail by six runs at stumps.
Hampshire began the game fourth in the table, but too far back to seriously challenge Essex and Somerset in the title race, while sixth-placed Surrey need seven points to make certain of their Division One status for next summer.
The home side’s top four all failed to reach double figures on a pitch offering help to the seamers, and James Vince wastefully followed for 15 when he was caught at point off Clark after hitting two fours earlier in the over.
But it was Clarke who proved the biggest threat and Hants were already eight down before Lewis McManus and Kyle Abbott, who both made 27, produced the biggest partnership of the innings of 45.
Surrey’s reply began badly when Mark Stoneman failed to deal with a short ball from Fidel Edwards and was caught at slip and they were 61-5 before Pope, who hit eight fours after being overlooked for England’s squad for the fifth Ashes Test, and Clarke steadied the innings.
Pope was eventually lbw to one from Holland which may have kept a little low and Kyle Abbott then trapped Conor McKerr lbw as Hampshire ended the day strongly.
Hampshire bowler Kyle Abbott told BBC Solent:
“At the toss the pitch was still pretty dry. I think it was used at the World Cup. We thought the grass on top would only just keep the pace of it. The fact they wanted to toss proves they had a similar thought to what we did.
“We thought it might do a little bit this morning but we didn’t really expect it to do that. With 17 wickets in the day it is moving forward quite quickly. It was a tricky patch when Pope came in, the lights were on and our tails were up. He batted well again and showed his class.
“If we can pick up those last couple of wickets in the morning without too much of a deficit then we are right in the game. Then every run after that will hurt them because there is still plenty in there that are going up and down and it is only going to get worse with the divots – 150 is still very competitive.”
Surrey batsman Ollie Pope told BBC Radio London:
“When we got here and saw the pitch we weren’t sure what to do, but we knew whatever was going to happen would happen quickly, and it did. Every run is gold dust here. We are not far behind now. We want to get a lead and then keep them behind in the second digs.
“The bowlers were outstanding. It started with the maidens from one end and we knew we would get our rewards finally if we stuck in there. The old goat (Clarke) keeps getting better with bat and ball. He keeps getting better.
“It was tough to bat. It was a pitch where I triggered differently to every bowler and try something different because it was nipping around. It was about finding a method because you never knew when there was going to be a ball with your name on it. When it was in your area you just had to put it away.”