Hampshire seem set fair for honours after big win over Nottinghamshire

Fidel Edwards summoned a Hampshire response Getty Images

Hampshire 310 (Weatherley 66, Fletcher 4-79) and 367 for 5 declared (Northeast 133, Rahane 119, Alsop 51*) beat Nottinghamshire 239 (Mullaney 102, Barker 3-46, Edwards 3-49, Abbott 3-61) and 194 (Nash 60, Edwards 3-37, Barker 3-42, Abbott 3-46) by 244 runs

Just before 11.30 on the final morning of this game the Radio Solent gazebo nearly blew away. For an alarming moment we thought the excellent Kevan James and Dave Bracegirdle would have to broadcast to the nations of the world au naturel as it were. But decency was soon restored and the gazebo's bid for freedom was an isolated incident in any case. No one else expressed a wish to depart this paradise on the island of chines and chapels.

Eight Nottinghamshire batsmen shuffled away, of course, but they were given no option by Sam Northeast's attack, who completed their side's 244-run victory at just gone three o'clock when Jake Ball looped a ball from Mason Crane into the covers where Aneurin Donald took the catch. Yet it was slightly ironic that the final wicket should fall to a spinner; Hampshire's three seamers had been the chief architects of victory on this final day and it was appropriate that Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards and Keith Barker should each take six wickets in the match.

Other spectators may identify the importance of Wednesday's partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Northeast in deciding the game's outcome. Aesthetes would agree but there is surely an equally sound argument that Nottinghamshire's failure to make any breakthroughs on the first morning when the ball was nipping around was as significant as anything else in shaping the match.

What is plain, though, is that this was Hampshire's third championship victory of the season and they seem set fair for honours. From an island on which Prospero might have chosen to remain they now go to Lord's, which is possessed of its own insularity, for the Royal London Cup Final; and thence on Monday to Yorkshire, whose inhabitants would probably welcome a ten-mile Channel round its boundary as a physical expression of the spiritual detachment they have always felt in any case.

To judge from their cricket over these four days, Northeast's cricketers are ready for the battles to come. They took their time over their win on Thursday but they truly lost only one of this game's 11 sessions, albeit they took only three wickets on the last morning. The first of these fell when nightwatchman Matt Carter failed to jab down on a straight ball from Barker and was lbw for 23 in the fifth over of the day; then Joe Clarke, having laboured over 19 balls was out for nought when he prodded at his 20th and nicked a catch to Tom Alsop off Abbott. It was a shot that could have brought Clarke nothing but grief but it was entirely consistent with the rest of his innings.

The most vital wicket, though, was that of Jake Libby, who batted for over an hour with Chris Nash before he fell to the perfectly legitimate aggression of the Hampshire seamers. Away from their sport, Edwards and Abbott probably contribute to worthy charities and fuss over their neighbours' pets. Put a cricket ball in their hands, however, and they become, like William Munny in Unforgiven, men "of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition."

Such an approach is part of the fast bowler's armoury, of course, and it was particularly evident when Edwards roughed up Nash and Libby in the half-hour before lunch. Aided by three short legs, the battering was enough to put any chap off his couscous and it worked when Libby, having paddled the ball to the fine leg boundary, prodded a catch to the vulturesque Oli Soames. That left Nottinghamshire on 131 for 5 and suddenly the main question being asked was 'when' not 'if'.

The answer to that query soon became clear. Abbott was brought on at the Carisbrooke End immediately after tiffin and he trapped Nash for a gutsy 60 - his third fifty of the season - with one that seemed to nip back a fair way. Any hopes that visiting supporters might have harboured that their team could kindle comparisons with Rorke's Drift were probably extinguished four overs later when another ball from Abbott kept very low and gave Tom Moores no price whatever when it thudded into his pad. Half an hour later Steven Mullaney was bowled by a similar delivery and all that remained was to dot an "i", cross a "t" and dismiss Stuart Broad.

Yet even when this game was done, several spectators stayed at Newclose and pondered what they had just seen. And not just the cricket, you understand, but the event itself and its many triumphs. Before very long tiredness will hit the volunteers like heat in the desert. But they can put their heads down knowing they have rendered Hampshire a noble service. In the winter cricket people will look back and choose their best week of the year. Some will choose Newclose in May and they will not be far wrong. It has already been one of the songs of summer.

Notts 4th innings Partnerships

1st6BT SlaterBM Duckett
2nd16CD NashBT Slater
3rd53CD NashM Carter
4th3CD NashJM Clarke
5th44CD NashJD Libby
6th10CD NashSJ Mullaney
7th12SJ MullaneyTJ Moores
8th21SJ MullaneyLJ Fletcher
9th24SCJ BroadLJ Fletcher
10th5LJ FletcherJT Ball