Stricken Hampshire show deep resolve

Yorkshire 593 for 9 dec (Bairstow 246, Plunkett 126, Lyth 111) and 183 for 8 dec (Gale 46, Tomlinson 3-31) drew with Hampshire 453 for 9 dec (Ervine 123, Vince 119, Sidebottom 4-80)

Andrew Gale’s 46 steadied Yorkshire after a final-day wobble © Getty Images

To concede 593 for 9 against a county with designs on a third successive Championship, be riven by an injury crisis which saw their coach and analyst pressed into fielding duties on the final day and yet still emerge with a draw was a commendable effort by Hampshire as they brace themselves for the hospital waiting rooms that lie ahead.

Fidel Edwards, Hampshire’s talisman as they escaped relegation on the final day last season, was the latest casualty after badly twisting an ankle in the pre-match warm-up and being carried from the outfield. It remained unclear whether the ankle was broken, but Hampshire are estimating a lay-off of two months, which equates to half the Championship season.

A fortnight into the season, roughly half the Hampshire professional staff has been injured, included six frontline bowlers, a calamitous situation which makes draws against Warwickshire and Yorkshire, two sides with Championship pretensions, quite something.

Loan signings are inevitable to see them through the coming weeks, although no Division One side is likely to be overly generous and the quality of any Division Two signing would be dubious. Any agent for Kolpak or dual national signings is likely to receive a call.

Considering that Hampshire were also hampered by injuries in this match to Sean Ervine, who will discover back in Southampton whether he has rebroken the finger that disrupted his 2015 season; Liam Dawson, who has an abdominal strain; and Chris Wood, whose knee niggle did relent enough for him to bowl in the second innings, Yorkshire still had an opportunity for victory when Hampshire’s innings ended, 140 behind, half an hour in the final day.

But their second innings faltered against excellent Hampshire bowling and, from 43 for 4 in the 18th over, when the prodigious run scoring of Jonny Bairstow for once failed to deliver (Ryan McLaren producing a good one to have him caught at the wicket), it became evident that they had abandoned hope of working themselves into a position to declare.

As the sun beat down, the alibi for Yorkshire’s caution was that this Headingley surface remained too true for any undue risk to be taken. “A lot of credit to Hampshire who didn’t lie down and die,” said their captain Andrew Gale. “I felt it was a good decision of theirs to bowl first on a pitch which flattened out a bit. I didn’t think that there was enough time to set a game up after we had lost a few wickets and we had to concentrate on a solid draw.”

That alibi looked a little threadbare in the hour before tea, however, as Will Smith’s legspin found enough turn to suggest that it would have been more advantageous for Adil Rashid to be bowling in the final session instead of batting out the overs. It might have benefited Rashid, too – a rare chance to bowl in encouraging conditions at Headingley in April not exactly a common one. Considering that 21 overs were lost to bad light on the opening day, this surface does not deserve to be talked down.

There are concerns in Yorkshire’s top order, tempered naturally by the fact the season is one game old, including two failures for Alex Lees, the latest when he was lbw during a demanding new-ball spell from James Tomlinson. Lees, as a young one-day captain carrying much responsibility, will hope to avoid last season’s slip in form. As for Tomlinson, he had wondered if his Championship opportunities might be limited after the signing of another left-arm quick, Reece Topley – another early-season casualty – but he was impressive here.

The most tortuous innings was played by Gary Ballance who took 28 balls to get off the mark and who needed 36 balls for 4, at which point he thrashed Chris Wood to a carefully-stationed short cover. Jack Leaning was beaten in the flight by Smith. Gale’s measured 46 guarded against disaster

Hampshire’s 12th man Mason Crane, coach Dale Benkenstein and analyst Joe Maiden had to field for much of the final day, presumably leaving Hampshire short of data as well as bowlers – just the sort of thing to send shivers through a modern dressing room. But who needs data when they can just wallow in memories of a draw as battling as this, one which leaves them with one defeat in eight since they began the recovery last season that ultimately saw them escape relegation.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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