Hampshire stand nips White Rose victory in bud

By Connor Steel / Photograph from BBC Sport

RESUMING their County Championship campaign after short form cricket competitions, Hampshire were forced to dig deep and rescue a draw versus Yorkshire at the Ageas Bowl.

But it could have been worse as the home side struggled across all four days, with the White Rose just one wicket short of a crushing victory as they were unable to remove a solid defensive mission from the Hampshire bowlers before bad light had its inevitable impact in the final hour.

The home side won the toss on day one and elected to bowl first in grey overcast conditions in Southampton, taking an early wicket as Kyle Abbott dismissed Adam Lyth for six runs to make it 13-1 off 10 overs. The second wicket fell 21 overs later and just before lunch as George Hill was deemed LBW by the same bowler (Abbott), which left the score standing on 61-2 at the first break interval of the match with both sides equal after 32 overs of opening bowling.

On a slow pitch, Yorkshire added another 24 runs in 12 overs before losing their third wicket to leave them on 84-3. Again it was Abbott who did the damage as the fast bowler ended Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s two-hour stand at the crease, with the batsman caught behind. The fourth wicket fell just before the tea break after 60.3 overs as Brad Wheal dismissing Harry Brook for an unlucky 13 runs. After a short interval Yorkshire made steady process against some pinpoint home bowling, which was rewarded as Hampshire took three wickets in the final session to end the day on top.

Gary Ballance was dismissed for 42 after nearly three hours of batting to become Liam Dawson’s sole wicket of the match, while Wheal saw off Harry Duke (12) and Jordan Thompson (15) either side of the new ball. Bad light then curtailed play early with Yorkshire on 197-6; Dominic Bess on 41* and Mat Fisher (5*), the unbeaten batsman as day two began.

Bess reached his half century in the fourth over of the second day, but was quickly dismissed for 54 runs as he was bowled by Keith Barker. Spin-bowler Mason Crane then wrapped up the Yorkshire tail in a five-over spell. He trapped Matt Fisher (17) and Ben Coad (0) in similar LBW wickets as the White Rose were all out for 243 runs after 107 overs. This meant that Hampshire had a spell of seven overs before lunch, which turned out to be disastrous as the hosts lost three batsmen.  Both Ian Holland and Nick Gubbins were dismissed off the bowling of Coad, while opener Joe Weatherley was sent back to the pavilion by Matt Fisher as Hampshire entered the first interval wobbling at 16-3.

These dismissals saw James Vince enter the crease after lunch, with the captain dominating a 70-run partnership with Tom Alsop lasting 26 overs. But in the final spell before tea, Vince was caught off the bowling of Fisher just one short of a half century (49) in a solid display that included nine fours. His strike partner of Alsop was then bowled by Bess leaving Hampshire on 93-5, before a 16-run partnership took the hosts over the follow-on target, although four wickets fell after tea to leave the batsmen on 123-9. Wicketkeeper McManus was dismissed by Bess while Jordan Thompson saw off all three of Dawson, Crane and Barker for a combined 20 runs in a devasting spell that ended any slight hope of a first innings lead.

Alongside fielding extras Kyle Abbott (21*) and Brad Wheal (12) put together a 40-run partnership before the latter was dismissed, a spell of resistance that took Hampshire to 163 all out and facing arrears of 80 runs. When Yorkshire took to the crease again, home hopes rose when Brad Wheal prompted Lyth to edge behind for just seven runs, perhaps looking to rip through a batting order on a crumbly and deteriorating pitch.

But overhead conditions in warm sunshine didn’t help the Hampshire bowlers as they toiled, worn down by a 121-run partnership between Hill and Kohler-Cadmore that took the lead over 200 runs. Although Hill was dismissed by Ian Holland for 55, this only brought Gary Balance to the crease and he let rip at the Hampshire bowlers. Accompanied by Kohler-Cadmore, who was dismissed for 89 runs with the score on 206-3, the former-English batsman smashed an unbeaten century over the course of day three as Yorkshire dominated. His innings of 101 off 86 deliveries saw seven sixes and four fours despite another three wickets falling as the visitors looked to accelerate the run scoring. Harry Brook (12) was dismissed by captain Vince, while Barker ended the innings of both Thomson (33) and Bess for a duck – although these breakthroughs didn’t seem to change the course of play.

Yorkshire declared on 312-6 with 90 minutes play left on day three, setting Hampshire a huge target of 393 to win or to bat out a minimum of 115 overs to seal a draw. It didn’t start well for the hosts as Ian Holland and Tom Alsop were beaten in the first 18 overs without the prospect of bad light to delay proceedings. This brought Mason Crane to the crease late on day three playing as a night watchman, helping to prevent any further losses as Hampshire ended the third day struggling on 26-2 with Yorkshire now firm favourites to win.

Crane and Weatherley continued to dig deep by scoring limited runs in a 28-over spell of defiance against pin-point bowling from Yorkshire, who slowly became frustrated. But when the latter was dismissed for 43 off 137 balls LBW and Nick Gubbins was out for six runs just before lunch, it left the door open for an away victory as Hampshire entered lunch on 90-4 off 59 overs. The session had gone well for the home side, but a slow scoring rate had ended any hope of a remarkable home victory, with only two results realistically possible.

Nightwatchman Crane continued his pairing with James Vince at the crease after lunch, with the two batsmen only scoring another 30 runs before the new ball was available in the 81st over. This led to the next wicket as the home spin bowler was dismissed by Fisher, following a four-hour stand on the pitch to get a painstaking 28 runs off nearly 200 balls. A sixth wicket quickly followed as Dawson was out, LBW, for a duck before it got worse just after the tea break. Thompson bowled the home wicketkeeper McManus for eight to leave the score on 138-7, three wickets for Yorkshire and 28 overs for Hampshire to bat through with both results on the cards.

Ten overs later it was 159-8 as Keith Barker was dismissed off the bowling of Thompson, before Yorkshire got their key wicket in the 108th over as James Vince was trapped LBW off the same, the captain taking 151 deliveries to score 42 runs and become only the third batsmen to record double figures in this Hampshire innings. But as the batsman retreated from the field to be replaced by Wheal, umpires decided to inform the Yorkshire captain that fast bowlers couldn’t bowl any more deliveries if they wanted to stay on the pitch. Grey, overcast conditions dominated the artificial light, with White Rose spin bowlers taking off the mantle with eight overs left and the score on 177-9.

And this was how the match ended as Kyle Abbott and Brad Wheal didn’t score any further runs off the last 42 deliveries, instead blocking everything that came their way in the final half an hour despite intense pressure from the bowlers. Yorkshire were just one wicket from victory as the umpires called the game a draw after the allocated overs =leaving a sour taste as the points for winning would have put the White Rose into second place in County Championship Division One.

Instead Hampshire have 11 points from this match, with their visitors getting one bonus point for batting as they took 12. But the two sides sit fifth and sixth in the table with three games left to play, with only home more match to be played at the Ageas Bowl this season. This will start on September 12 as Hampshire host Nottinghamshire, but first they will travel to Edgbaston on Sunday to play top-of-the-table Warwickshire in their second game of this last competition stage.

Scorecard from this match can be seen here.