Hampshire 218 (Brown 53, Barker 52; Thompson 5-60) and 214 for 3 (Organ 72, Holland 71) beat Yorkshire 159 (Bess 67, Fraine 53; Abbott 6-36) and 272 (Tattersall 63, Lyth 59; Abbott 4-77, Abbas 3-37) by seven wickets
A match that had appeared to be nip and tuck on Wednesday evening eventually proved to be neither. On a pitch that was drier and easier for batting than it had been earlier in the week, Hampshire’s batters strolled to their target of 214 to set up a second successive push for the County Championship in September, when their next opponents will be Northamptonshire at the Ageas Bowl.
And if James Vince’s side do win their county’s third title in September, they will have conformed to the curious pattern whereby recent champions – Middlesex, Essex, Surrey and Yorkshire themselves – have all recorded victories at North Marine Road. Scarborough has always been the most hospitable of towns but rarely to this extent.
Yet there was really no point in this day’s cricket when Yorkshire appeared likely to discomfit their opponents. Runs came easily in the cool morning as Jordan Thompson strayed down the leg side and Ian Holland tucked into a couple of pies. Then Ben Coad bowled too full, a rare error, and Felix Organ gave it the full diapason down the ground. Before we had finished our first coffees of the day, Hampshire had scored 30 runs and the shape of the game looked very different. Matthew Waite replaced Thompson but he went for runs as well. Hampshire’s fifty came up in 45 minutes and Dom Bess was bowling from the Peasholm Park End by noon.
Even in late July we are at the stage when cricketers take notice of other teams’ progress. So the only sombre note in Hampshire’s morning came from the Kia Oval where Division One leaders Surrey were beginning what proved to be a serene run-chase against Warwickshire. Meanwhile, Holland and Organ continued to mind their own business, pushing singles and ticking things along “sensibly, steadily” much like the clock in Trumpton.
Holland showed himself to be as adept at the reverse-sweep as Alfred (Scarborough College Class of 22) had been before play started, when one of the youngster’s well-timed efforts clattered into a couple of spectators on the wooden benches high in this amphitheatre. But the ball was soft and no one objects to lads practising cricket in this town.
The morning’s only alarm for Hampshire came when Jonny Tattersall missed a stumping when Organ was 37 but the ball had spun sharply out of the rough and down the leg side. Only the martinet Yorkshire coaches like Arthur “Ticker” Mitchell would have laid into the keeper for that one. At lunch, Hampshire were 121 without loss – just as everyone had predicted.
The afternoon’s play brought a little comfort for Yorkshire supporters, although they might have seen Hampshire’s loss of three wickets in 5.4 overs as an irritating reminder of what might have been possible had their bowlers shaped themselves earlier. But Coad was playing his first match after four months out with injuries and he will have been encouraged to remove Holland for 71, when a little extra bounce induced an edge to first slip, and then Joe Weatherley, who was leg before wicket for nought. Those dismissals sandwiched the departure of Organ, who hit Bess for a splendid six over long-on, only to pull the next ball, a steaming long-hop, straight to Matthew Revis at deep square leg.
The super-optimists at North Marine Road may have thought these wickets a prelude to the sort of fightback in which Steve Patterson’s team has specialised this summer. If so, they were swiftly disabused of this notion by the grace of Vince, whose cover drives off Bess and Patterson were of the highest quality. Hampshire’s skipper even managed to invest a slog-swept six with aesthetic value and he was unbeaten on 43 when the victory was confirmed and the red balls were put away for a month or so.
Meanwhile, at The Oval Surrey’s progress towards victory was progressing smoothly and their victory over Warwickshire has extended their lead over Hampshire at the top of the table to 16 points, albeit Vince’s team look to have the easier final three games. And at least we should have yet another September to cherish through the autumn