By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET recorded a crucial victory in pursuit of County Championship Division One glory on Wednesday, beating Yorkshire by two wickets at the Ageas Bowl in an intriguing battle under bright skies. But the first and second innings for both sides couldn’t be more different as batting became difficult over time; the two scoring over 400 in their first but struggling to reach 200 in the second as Hampshire won late on the final day to maintain second place in the table behind favourites and current leaders Surrey.
Having elected to bat first on Sunday morning, Yorkshire started well on a slow but flat pitch with Adam Lyth and George Hill at the crease; scoring 51 runs in twenty four overs before the first wicket of the game. Coming just balls after hitting a fine shot for four Lyth played a loose shot to Ian Holland’s out-swinging delivery and paid the price as he was caught at 3rd slip to depart for nineteen off 73 deliveries. But the hosts were unable to turn this into a cluster of wickets as their visitors looked more dominant at lunch on 68-1.
Hill continued his fine stroke-play upon the second session and this led to Yorkshire’s next wicket to fall; his straight drive hitting the stumps with Will Fraine (20) run out backing up the non-striker’s end to leave the visitors on 85-2. But this brought Harry Brook to the crease as Hill reached his half century off 131 deliveries, with the run-rate increasing quickly as the pair hit multiple long boundaries as they reached their century partnership in just over 20 overs. Both smashed Liam Dawson for sixes and scored runs around all areas of the pitch; Brook getting another 50 and Hill nearing his century to leave Yorkshire 186-2 at the tea break.
The batting pair continued their dominance as they took advantage of a great situation with Hill getting his second straight century, adding another flurry of runs before losing their third wicket as Brook was dismissed by Fuller. This left the score on 222-3 which soon became 276-4 following a fifteen over spell either side of the new ball, Hill being beaten by a Keith Abbott to depart for 131 including 21 boundaries. Tight bowling also sealed a fifth wicket with three overs left as Harry Duke had his off-stump kissed by Holland, who was a star performer on day one with Yorkshire reaching 324-5 at the close as they secured three batting points.
Hampshire started well on day two with an early wicket following a slow start; Keith Barker having Matthew Waite caught behind for 41 runs. In response Yorkshire claimed their fourth batting point as they passed 350 and looked set for a fifth as they chased the four hundred in 110 overs; Dom Bess looking dangerous as he hit multiple short and over pitched balls to the boundary to reach his half century mark off just 84 deliveries. However the spinner was pegged back as he lost four batting partners as Yorkshire were bowled out for 428 just before lunch; Brad Wheal dismissing all of Jordan Thompson (23), Matthew Revis (10), Dominic Drakes (6) and Steven Patterson (1) in the morning session which ebbed in momentum for both sides throughout.
Yorkshire’s momentum continued after the interval as they reduced Hampshire to 12-2 off just five overs in response, Thompson trapping Felix Organ leg-before for eleven and seeing Holland caught in the slips for a duck. Further tight bowling almost saw off Nick Gubbins and James Vince who joined together at the crease, the pair adding eighty four unbeaten runs with a mixture of quick running and boundaries in a partnership that dominated the afternoon session. However just as the pair were building momentum with Gubbins reaching his 50 mark their partnership was ended by Waite, who deceived Vince with a straight delivery that trapped the captain LBW as the hosts reached 110-3 off thirty seven overs as temperatures increased.
Gubbins (58 was unable to build after tea as he was dismissed just four balls into the evening session following a Patterson delivery, which brought Liam Dawson and Ben Brown to the crease with Yorkshire eyeing a cluster of wickets. However the batting pair prevented any further loss of wickets on day two, growing in confidence as Hampshire claimed their 1st batting point with shadows growing behind the wickets. Overall Dawson and Brown both reached their half-centuries with a combined thirteen boundaries in the final session, scoring 118 runs to finish on 225-4 going into day three following a ebbing three sessions.
Dawson failed to add to his overnight sixty-one runs as he tried to attack Dom Bess in the opening spell of the third day, seeing his looping shot gathered at point by Lyth. Donald then joined with Brown, who survived a drop on 53, and the pair added a half century partnership that saw Hampshire claim their second batting point. But after passing the follow on target and with the new ball Yorkshire removed the home wicketkeeper as he pushed to first slip, Barker joining Donald as Hampshire survived until the lunch break to reach 309-6 with a third batting point on a pitch that looked good for both sides as the match looked in the balance.
The pair extended their partnership to 57 after lunch before both falling within three overs, Donald (30) trapped LBW by Revis and Barker (38) seeing his stumps smashed from Bess whilst missing a reverse sweep to leave the score on 333-8. But any hope for Yorkshire was quashed by big hitting from Fuller and Abbott, who hit seven eight runs in just twelve overs; including four maximums and six fours as they passed 400. However their fun was ended in quick succession as Thompson wrapped up the Hampshire innings; Fuller out for 37 as he was caught and Abbott (38) following soon after to give Yorkshire a tight 18 run lead.
The visitors started their second innings with patient batting; the openers scoring 36 runs in eighteen overs either side of tea before the 1st wicket fell. Hill (17) was the man to fall as he was unable to drive away with Barker drawing an edge to Vince at second slip, whilst Lyth followed soon after to the same bowler caught behind. This left Yorkshire on 55-2 and this soon became 67-4 as they lost two quick wickets; Brook (10) falling to Barker and Fraine (8) edging off Abbott. And it soon got better for the hosts in the final spell of day 3, Wheal drawing a loose shot from Waite as Yorkshire reached stumps on 101-5 with a result now likely.
Day four started perfectly for Hampshire as they took another wicket with Duke (17) edging Abbott onto his stumps; whilst Bess (15) was soon LBW to the South African seamer and Thompson becoming the third morning victim as he slashed Wheal to 2nd slip just two balls later. These quick wickets left Yorkshire on 124-8 before Drakes and Revis combined to add forty-four runs as they absorbed multiple maidens; eating up 68 minutes with Drakes’ maximum a rare spark. This partnership was ended after lunch as Drakes drove to slip for 21 before Patterson was bowled by Wheal to end the innings on 178 all-out, Revis unbeaten on 28 runs.
Needing 197 to win from fifty-nine overs, Organ smashed his first two balls for boundaries as he set the tone before falling to Thompson; the bowler further seeing the back of Holland as he pinned him in front to leave Hampshire on 23-2. But again Gubbins and Vince came to the crease together as the pair saw off the new ball spell; both hitting boundaries and sixes as they got ahead of the run rate with tea looming. This led to lost concentration as their fifty-five run partnership was ended by Patterson trapping Gubbins (42) LBW, Bess removing Vince (22) the next over as the hosts reached 80-4 going into the final session of the match.
Fourteen runs were added after tea before Hampshire lost their fifth wicket as Bess removed the solid Brown (4) to leave them on 94-5, before Donald (5) was bowled by Patterson nine runs later. Consolidation was needed with Dawson and Barker batting, the pair taking a risk free approach before counter-attacking under now 25 degrees sun. The real damage came in the 38th over with Dawson hitting two fours and a six to add sixteen runs; whilst Barker didn’t hit the boundary in his twenty one runs before being strangled by Drakes down the leg side. Despite this dismissal Hampshire looked in control as Dawson unfurled three cover drives to move to 67; failing to finish the job as he hooked to fine leg with Abbott and Fuller sealing a narrow victory.
Hampshire’s two wicket victory saw them gain twenty-two points overall, which maintains their three gap to Surrey at the top after seven games apiece; Vince’s side winning five out of seven so far this campaign at the half-way point. An away trip to Essex now awaits Hampshire in their next Division One encounter starting on June 26, but attentions must now turn back to the team’s quarter final quest in the Vitality Blast. A quick turnaround awaits as the Hawks host Kent Spitfires on Friday (June 17) before playing Surrey on Sunday.
PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE CRICKET: Home players celebrate wicket as they seal narrow day four win.