Yorkshire’s 18th defeat in their last 21 one-day semi-finals dating back to 1979 arrived yesterday at the Ageas Bowl, where they lost to Hampshire by 107 runs.
Victory would have seen them through to the final against Kent at Lord’s on June 30.
Instead, it is Hampshire who can look forward to that prospect after a performance that suggests they will take some beating.
Had Yorkshire prevailed, they would have gone into that final as favourites due to the likely availability of half of the England one-day side currently in action against Australia.
As it was, they were without Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett and David Willey yesterday, just as they had been in the quarter-final play-off at Essex, where they nonetheless proved that such handicaps are not always a barrier to progress.
This felt an even-ish sort of match-up on the edge of Southampton, albeit with Hampshire the favourites as the home side and notwithstanding the absence for them of injured spinners Mason Crane and Brad Taylor, with Crane their leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 at 27.
Yorkshire, who welcomed back overseas batsman Cheteshwar Pujara following the early finish to India’s Test match against Afghanistan, had a more inexperienced air and were ultimately left disappointed as Hampshire scored 348-9 after being asked to bat, captain James Vince striking a sublime 171, Yorkshire scoring 241 in reply, with Jonathan Tattersall making a career-best 89 from 81 balls.
“We’re disappointed, but I think we’ve got to take a lot of pleasure in how we’ve played our 50-over cricket this year,” said Yorkshire’s director of cricket, Martyn Moxon.
“We weren’t quite at our best in this match, but, having said that, I thought we fought really hard and, although you don’t want to make excuses, I thought some big (umpiring) decisions went again us.
“James Vince played a magnificent innings and he was the difference between the teams.
“We can’t quite get over the line in semi-finals, but we can take a lot of positives from the way that we’ve played.”
For much of the day, conditions were perfect as Yorkshire chased their first appearance at a Lord’s final since 2002.
There was barely a cloud in the sky until late afternoon, Yorkshire bowling first in an effort to exploit what moisture there was in the surface. The bare-coloured pitch proved as good for batting as the weather was agreeable for the 4,000 crowd, with a sizeable number of spectators having travelled down from Yorkshire to judge by the accents, flags and replica tops.
Hampshire made a decent if perhaps not dynamic start, Jimmy Adams falling to a slip catch in the sixth over before fellow opener Rilee Rossouw gave it away by skying a pull to mid-on, leaving the hosts 76-2 in the 13th.
But the home team took control through a third-wicket stand of 142 in 21 overs between Vince and Sam Northeast, which put the pitch into proper context.
Vince led the way with the sort of innings that must leave an England selector tearing his hair out. Few players in the world could have batted so well, with some of his back foot punches through the covers, in particular, a joy to behold.
The captain also used his feet superbly to seamer and spinner alike, while his pull shots sounded like gunfire off the bat.
Vince reached a seemingly effortless half-century from 45 balls and needed only another 38 deliveries to bring up his eighth one-day hundred and his fourth against Yorkshire in all forms of cricket.
Northeast, back in the first team after two months out with a broken finger, offered staunch support in striking 58 from 56 balls. He pulled Steve Patterson for six in addition to hitting four fours before somewhat tamely skying to mid-off, leaving Hampshire 218-3 in the 34th over.
At that stage, a total in the 375 region felt well within range, but Yorkshire ensured that the final score was more formidable than foolproof, with only 78 arriving from the last 10 overs.
Patterson nipped in with two wickets, while Adam Lyth got rid of Vince when he had him well taken by a leaping Tom Kohler-Cadmore at long-on in the 46th over, Vince’s 171 – made from 126 balls and containing 20 fours and three sixes – the third-highest individual score against Yorkshire in one-day cricket.
If Yorkshire were to achieve what would have been their highest one-day run-chase, they needed someone to emulate Vince, but Tattersall’s was the only notable score, the 23-year-old playing splendidly before getting a leading edge to cover when the cause seemed hopeless.
Yorkshire never recovered from the early loss of big guns Lyth, Kohler-Cadmore, Pujara and Gary Ballance, left-arm spinner Liam Dawson the most successful bowler with 4-47.