Warwickshire 217 and 212 for 9 (Burgess 58, Davies 46, Barker 4-23) lead Hampshire 370 for 9 dec (Holland 99, Dawson 92, Brown 72*, Hannon-Dalby 5-86) by 59 runs
Bears old boy Barker is second in the Division One wicket-taking tally with 38 scalps this season but was forced to toil with Mohammad Abbas (three for 31), Liam Dawson (two for 38) and the rest of the host’s attack.
Davies and Burgess, 46 and 58, were the chief occupiers on a turgid day of low scoring as Warwickshire attempted to scrap their way out of the threat of an innings defeat, having given up a 153 first-innings deficit.
Hampshire will need a wicket and at least 59 runs on the final day; with victory and a likely Surrey draw closing the gap at the top of the table to a single point.
Dom Sibley reverted to type after his 56-ball half-century in the first innings by soaking up 34 balls, admittedly 16 coming the previous evening, before he dangled his bat at an Abbas delivery which angled across him.
Without Sam Hain and with Sibley already departed, there were fears Warwickshire could collapse in a similar manner to the first innings. Hain is with England Lions this week and is their top scorer with 716 runs – and also scored twin centuries on his last appearance on this ground.
Davies stood up for 215 long, dogged, minutes though. Davies, who joined from Lancashire last winter has a reputation for being an attack-minded player, here he put away almost all his shots for the greater good. Other than being spilt at second slip very early on, he barely offered a yelp of a half appeal.
Chris Benjamin stuck with him for almost an hour and a half as the 2022 Championship theme of a softening paired with a slow Ageas Bowl pitch made the game feel like it had often paused. Barker eventually got him just before lunch with another nibble behind when pushing across a right-handed batter.
An inviting spot of rough outside a left-handed batters’ off stump was Dawson’s target area, with Dan Mousley and Will Rhodes attempting to defend against the risk. Dawson would get the pair of them lbw with identical sharp turning and low bouncing balls.
Abbas is perfect for this type of slow wicket as his metronomic bowling occasionally produces a surprise moment of inspiration. He ended Matt Lamb’s stay by bereaving his leg and off stumps of their triplet.
The Pakistani then offered Davies width which the opener gratefully picked up on with the intention of taking him to fifty, but Aneurin Donald plucked out a screamer at point. Davies was forced to trudge back to the dressing room after 154 balls.
Abbas’ spell of five overs was worth two for 12 but despite reaching the lower-middle order, Hampshire were frustrated by first-innings top scorer Nathan McAndrew and Warwickshire’s second leading run-getter Burgess.
Fidel Edwards was on the pitch at tea as he was given a gift by Rod Bransgrove to commemorate his five years at Hampshire. How his former county wished for his explosivity as McAndrew and Burgess made sure they’d have to bat again.
They added 81, Warwickshire’s highest partnership of the match, with little issue, despite the second new ball. Burgess picked up his fifth 50-plus score of the campaign in 103 deliveries.
Barker was the man to go bang-bang this time. Burgess, who had been dropped on six, fell toeing a drive to Donald at point before McAndrew tickled behind. Oliver Hannon-Dalby lobbed a simple catch to square leg with Warwickshire closing on 212 for nine.