sport

Hales heroics inspires Notts

Nottinghamshire batsman Alex Hales again showed his affection for Edgbaston with a season's best 183 which left Warwickshire's acting captain Varun Chopra regretting his decision to bowl first on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One match.

Hales's century was his third at Edgbaston, a ground where he now averages 130 having reached 50 in six of his eight first-class innings, and helped guide Nottinghamshire to 397 for seven.

The England Twenty20 international had a dreadful time in championship cricket last year when he mustered just 251 runs in 18 innings but he has bounced back this season having failed to land a lucrative IPL contract.

Hales's second century of the season was the eighth of his career and it was an innings of two distinct parts. He struck 12 fours in his first 63 balls but then found the boundary only three more times in reaching a 134-ball century.

Those figures also reflected how Warwickshire bowled.

They squandered any initiative there might have been in bowling first by pitching short and conceding 146 runs in a damaging first session.

It required the unlikely intervention of Jonathan Trott as a bowler to bring a measure of control and the England batsman made an important breakthrough on the stroke of lunch when he took his first championship wicket in four years.

Trott was playing his first championship match in more than two months in his latest comeback from the stress-related illness that forced him to return early from the winter Ashes tour.

Chopra called him into the attack ahead of England paceman Boyd Rankin and he struck with his 17th ball when Phil Jaques edged one that was angled across him to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose for 77.

Jaques and Hales had plundered 91 in 16 overs for the second wicket after Steven Mullaney had gifted toiling Warwickshire their first wicket when he picked out Chris Woakes at deep mid-wicket when he tried to pull Rikki Clarke over the short boundary in front of the Eric Hollies Stand.

There were ironic cheers from Warwickshire supporters when Chopra eventually introduced Rankin in the 43rd over and more when the tall Irishman struck in his second and third overs.

James Taylor and Samit Patel were both caught behind working to leg but Hales reined in his natural attacking instincts to see off Rankin's threat and to reach his century with successive fours off New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel.

Riki Wessels helped Hales add 119 for the fifth wicket and reached his seventh 50 of the season with a pulled six off Keith Barker in the second over with the second new ball.

Wessels then slapped Barker to point, Hales perished one short of equalling his career-best score when he was LBW to Rankin and Peter Siddle edged Chris Wright to first slip.

Hales said: "It's been a good month. I'm really pleased with how it's gone especially after how last year was. I have put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of months and I'm glad to see some rewards.

"The whole of the winter before all I was doing was practising Twenty20 cricket and that was always on my mind. My technique suffered a bit from that, my four-day form slid down a bit but I have put that back to a priority this year and it's coming off nicely."

Chopra was less than pleased with his side's bowling display.

He said: "As a side it's probably the worst we have bowled since I have been at the club which is disappointing.

"It wasn't due to lack of effort or commitment. Everyone stood up and wanted the ball and kept coming in but, unfortunately, it was one of those days where the bowlers just couldn't find their rhythm."

Having seen Roy dismantle his side's bowling attack for the second time in 72 hours, Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein was full of praise for the 23-year-old's unbeaten ton.

"From a Hampshire point of view we'll be glad to see the back of him, but from a cricketing perspective it's been wonderful to see someone with his talent starting to get it together," said Benkenstein, the former Durham batsman.

"He's maybe flattered to deceive in the past, especially in the four-day game, but he hits the ball like an international-class player and hardly played a false shot today.

"Clearly, it helps that this is such a good pitch, but I think Jason is starting to come of age and, if he continues to show that level of concentration and starts enjoying making big scores on a regular basis, then there's every chance of him playing at an even higher level.

"We want to bat well tomorrow, then it will be tough for anyone to force a result on this pitch."