Yorkshire CCC defeated with the minimum of fuss by Hampshire at Scarborough

LIKE a bomb that needed to be carefully diffused, Hampshire’s batsmen set about the task of chasing 214 to win with grim precision.

A false move here, a careless choice there, and everything could have exploded in their faces.

Their mission, heading into the final day of a nip-and-tuck contest at North Marine Road, was to remove the fuse from Yorkshire’s bowling and to leave with points and limbs intact.

They accomplished it with minimal discomfort and with barely a bead of sweat on their faces, victory strengthening their quest to win a first County Championship since 1973.

Brace: Yorkshire's Ben Coad took the wickets of Ian Holland and Joe Weatherby but Hampshire eased to a seven-wicket win. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Yorkshire’s ambitions are now somewhat less lofty.

A third defeat in four games, with only rain in Somerset last week preventing the prospect of a fourth, has left them looking anxiously over their shoulders going into the final block of four fixtures in September.

That three of those matches are against further title-chasers in Lancashire, Essex and Surrey will do little to assuage concerns while the Championship takes a month’s hiatus for the Royal London Cup and The Hundred, a bit like interrupting, in the case of the latter competition, a run of Macbeth at the Barbican for a particularly tacky, egregious play.

Yorkshire have won only once in 10 attempts (against bottom club Gloucestershire in their opening match, who visit Headingley for the final round), and Hampshire experienced few fourth-day flutters, with 72 from Felix Organ and 71 from fellow opener Ian Holland steering them to a seven-wicket triumph with a little over a session to spare.

Final act: Steve Patterson, right, led Yorkshire out at Scarborough for what he has decided was the last time. (Picture: John Clifton/SWPix.com)

Ottis Gibson, the Yorkshire head coach, said he was not concerned about the prospect of getting dragged into a relegation fight.

“We know exactly where we are,” he said. “There’s no concerns, but we are aware - there’s a difference.

“We didn’t have an overseas in this game, so we might look at the bowling line-up and see whether we need to get someone in for the last four games, someone that’s going to affect the outcome of games.

“Hampshire are a very good team with a world-class bowling attack, and although we’re not yet there as an inexperienced bowling group, we will get there.”

Looking up: Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson said he is not concerned about being draw into a relegation battle. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

You do not win many matches from 33-6, as Yorkshire were here after choosing to bat, a first-day predicament that would have been worse had Dom Bess and Will Fraine not constructed a seventh-wicket partnership of 116.

As it was, a final total of 159, to which Hampshire responded with 218, was not quite sufficient, and the visitors would have diffused this particular bomb much earlier had they not put down six catches in Yorkshire’s second innings of 272.

It was as though Hampshire’s complacency earlier in proceedings, as if they simply expected to win, jolted them into a new-found purpose yesterday and the determination to keep up the pressure in the title race.

An opening stand of 135 between Organ and Holland made all else a formality, even if there was a brief period after lunch when three wickets fell for 12 runs when Yorkshire’s supporters briefly thought to themselves: “We couldn’t, could we?”

Final act: Steve Patterson, right, led Yorkshire out at Scarborough for what he has decided was the last time. (Picture: John Clifton/SWPix.com)

Beneath overcast skies that seemed tailored for bowlers, with the finest outground that ever drew breath carrying more of an autumnal than summery feel, Hampshire started the day on 9-0 after safely negotiating three overs on the third evening.

Yorkshire really needed early wickets or, as the non-imaginists like to put it, a “big first hour”, but, at the conclusion of said momentous 60 minutes, Hampshire were 53-0 and the pattern for the day had been set.

Yorkshire’s bowling was occasionally wayward - perhaps they were straining too hard for wickets - and Organ and Holland’s over-my-dead body approach was given the get-out-of-jail card of too many four-balls.

Organ on-drove Ben Coad for a couple of straight boundaries and Holland was strong and decisive off his legs, never a strength a side wishes to feed.

Before only a few hundred spectators, wrapped up against the wind, there was only one real chance in a wicketless morning, a missed stumping off Bess when Organ was 37. It was a tough one for Jonny Tattersall, with the ball spitting out of the rough, and Hampshire looked home and hosed at lunch on 121-0.

Holland and Organ then fell in soft fashion given their earlier hard work, Holland practically steering Coad to first slip and Organ pulling a Bess short ball straight down the throat of deep mid-wicket in front of the West Stand.

Hampshire slipped to 147-3 when Joe Weatherley was leg-before to Coad for a 14-ball duck, but James Vince (43) and Nick Gubbins (20) saw their side home.