IT WAS a day that began with Yorkshire pace bowler Ben Coad being presented with his county cap in front of the pavilion, a proud moment for a man who has taken 91 County Championship wickets and counting in 20 matches since the start of last season.
It was a day that contained positive discussions between Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who is understood to be close to signing a new contract to play white and red-ball cricket for the club.
And, on the field, it was a day when Yorkshire scored 184 after Hampshire exercised their right to bowl, the visitors replying with 79-5.
As for the all-important bigger picture, Yorkshire’s Division One status is all-but secure; a win here would guarantee it ahead of next week’s game at bottom club Worcestershire, while another nine points from this position would suffice should Worcestershire lose to Essex at Chelmsford, where they are staring down the barrel with the home side 252-5 in reply to 94 all-out.
This game, played on a lively pitch in helpful bowling conditions, looks set for a positive result with the proviso of an unpromising weather forecast tomorrow, when one might be ill-advised to hang out the washing before heading to Headingley.
The fact that ball has dominated is evidenced by the statistic that the highest score so far is Gary Ballance’s 30; not quite the equivalent of a hundred on a flat pitch, perhaps, but a useful barometer of the prevailing difficulty.
It’s been a tough season, with a lot of injuries and people leaving and so on, but the boys are fighting as hard as they can.Gary Ballance
Ballance, who passed 10,000 first-class runs during the course of his innings (career average 46.96), believes that the match is beautifully poised.
“It’s pretty even, I think, and a lot depends on the first hour in the morning,” he said. “If we win that, we’ll be in a pretty good position.
“It’s difficult to bat out there – it felt like it seamed all day – and the bowlers are always in the game and you’ve just got to scrap really hard as a batter.
“It’s been a tough season, with a lot of injuries and people leaving and so on, but the boys are fighting as hard as they can.”
No play was possible before lunch due to rain, with 17 overs lost in total.
Yorkshire, unchanged from last week’s apparently season-saving victory over Lancashire, had taken their score to 21-0 inside seven overs when they suddenly lost two wickets in the space of four balls.
Jeet Raval was bowled pushing forward at Kyle Abbott, his dismissal initially confusing some spectators due to the lack of Hampshire celebration, and then Harry Brook was bowled for a second-ball duck by a fast away-swinger from Fidel Edwards.
Brook had been dropped off his first ball – the last of Abbott’s previous over – when Ian Holland grassed a straightforward opportunity at first slip.
Adam Lyth and Ballance added 48 at four-an-over to give the innings impetus in challenging circumstances with the floodlights on. It was challenging for the fielding side too, such was the gale-force wind that blew across the ground and which appeared to have evil designs on toppling the floodlights.
Ballance, enjoying a fine run of form, looked in prime touch and brought up his 10,000 milestone on reaching 27. But he perished when well-set, lbw to Gareth Berg as he tried to work to leg a ball that seemed to be honing in on leg stump.
It was the first of three wickets for two runs as Tom Kohler-Cadmore, also in fine form, was bowled by Berg as he tried to withdraw his bat to a ball outside off stump before Lyth was caught driving to gully.
Yorkshire slipped to 110-6 on the stroke of tea when Jonny Tattersall was bowled pushing forward at a good one from Holland that left him late and hit off stump. Matthew Waite also got a good one from Edwards, who had him caught behind after luring him forward with one that swung away.
Edwards claimed his third wicket when Tim Bresnan was undone by a fine yorker and then his fourth when Steve Patterson was bowled aiming to leg. The innings ended when Jack Brooks was bowled by Abbott swinging across the line, with seven of the 10 batsmen bowled.
The theme of tumbling wickets continued as Hampshire fell from 29-0 to 33-3.
Brooks pinned Joe Weatherley and, after Coad had Oliver Soames caught behind off a tentative push, Brooks had Jimmy Adams caught at third slip by Brook, who thrust out an instinctive right hand to claim the drive.
Brook took another slip catch to remove Sam Northeast off Bresnan, who followed up with the key wicket of James Vince lbw as the batsman played around a straight delivery.