Hampshire 42 for 3 (Hannon-Dalby 2-22) trail Warwickshire 217 (McAndrew 63, Sibley 56, Abbott 5-45) by 175 runs
England Test captain Stokes sent a message to county cricketers that the manner in which they play “will be on the selectors’ minds” – with Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum promoting a more aggressive mindset.
Sibley, previously criticised for his slow play when playing for England, responded at the Ageas Bowl with a 56-ball fifty, full of shot-making.
Visiting skipper Will Rhodes couldn’t have said “bat” any quicker having won the toss under blue skies and warm sun, and before lunch, everything was as easy as the conditions suggested.
Sibley made things look even simpler with an approach which would have pricked Stokes and McCullum’s attention, having not played a Test since last autumn. The third and fifth balls he faced disappeared to the deep third boundary with controlled and uncontrolled edges.
While thick outside-edges were an early motif of his innings, it was a pair of straight drives that drew surveillance due to their rarity in a typical Sibley innings. Those took him to 27 from only 20 balls.
Surrey-bound Sibley went away over the winter to work on his cricket, pulling out of an England A tour to Australia. He has returned with 537 runs at a smudge under 45, with two centuries – with only Ben Compton and Alastair Cook bettering his record as an opener in Division One.
A glorious cover drive continued his off-side dominance before he reached the fourth score over 50 this summer with a flick off his legs to the boundary.
Alex Davies was leg before to Liam Dawson attempting a scoop and Chris Benjamin was bowled shouldering his arms to the returning Mohammad Abbas, but otherwise, it had been a batting morning.
The afternoon was not. The ball started to nibble slightly more as Abbott and Keith Barker asserted their pressure. Abbott’s post-lunch spell was exemplary as his eight overs produced figures of three for nine.
Barker was equally prolific with his first five-over after the interval two for 11 as he had Sibley caught behind, having narrowly missed the outside edge the ball before. Abbott pinned Dan Mousley in front and Will Rhodes squared up and outside edging to third slip before Barker bowled Matt Lamb while leaving.
Michael Burgess tried to charge Abbott but couldn’t get out the way of a bouncer, which he gloved to first slip.
Having been 77 for one, Warwickshire were now 104 for seven. Enter McAndrew and Danny Briggs – who was afforded a warm welcome on his return to his first county. The pair put on 57 to take the sting out of the afternoon before Hannon-Dalby added a further 56 with McAndrew once Briggs became the third victim not to offer a shot.
McAndrew, in his 18th first-class match, reached his fifth half-century in 79 – although he and Hannon-Dalby were both given lives earlier in their innings.
Abbott ended the resistance as McAndrew hooked to deep fine leg and George Garrett was bowled. Sam Hain-less Warwickshire bowled out for 217.
The Bears’ bowling display in 23 overs was magnificent. Hannon-Dalby saw off Felix Organ lbw and James Vince nicking to first slip.
Garrett didn’t go for a run in his opening three overs – and only conceded four runs in five overs – while McAndrew removed Nick Gubbins for a turgid two off 30 balls with a catch at second slip.