Hampshire’s impressive recent form in the Yorkshire Bank 40 went up in smoke as they were crushed in a disastrous clash with Durham.
On a bad day at the office for the Royals – when just about everything went wrong – the silver lining was it was just their second defeat in seven matches in this year’s competition and they still remain well in the hunt to defend their title.
Hopes were high Hampshire would click back into their imperious one-day form at Chester-le-Street to help shake off their recent struggles in the Championship.
But it was perhaps more worrying there were shades of some of the problems that have blighted their efforts with the red ball in a six-wicket loss that became a procession for the home side.
The normally razor-sharp fielding in the one-day game was way down on its usual standard with a flurry of handling errors costing easy runs at regular intervals.
But Hampshire were also left to rue two crucial dropped catches as they attempted to defend a 40-over total that was 53 runs down on their winning score against Derbyshire last time out.
While their batting display was below par as they posted 224 for nine, without Liam Dawson’s brilliant 46-ball 69 the defeat would have arrived even more quickly than it eventually did.
And Durham didn’t exactly hang around as they replaced Hampshire on top of group B with 16 balls to spare.
With the bat, the Royals failed to fire in their usual fashion as Durham’s Chris Rushworth (five for 42) did the majority of the damage.
James Vince (11) saw his indifferent form continue but while Michael Carberry (20), Jimmy Adams (32) and Sean Ervine (33) all got starts, none of them went on to make a big contributions.
Dawson, however, showed his growing worth to the side with three sixes and six fours to boost a total that looked like it might have been below 200 at one stage.
The Royals cause was not helped by injuries to Dimi Mascarenhas – the victim of a back spasm – and Carberry, who did not take the field because of a hand injury.
Mascarenhas’ absence left the bowling attack looking decidedly threadbare.
And despite Sohail Tanvir (four for 39) turning in a fine display with the ball, he looked like he was fighting a one-man mission at times.
He should have had five wickets as well, after Ervine dropped a regulation chance at slip that would have been a second wicket and would have dismissed Phil Mustard (92) when he was on just 11 – a key moment that went against the Royals.
But it happened again when Vince put down a straightforward opportunity off his own bowling, this time Scott Borthwick (80) getting an extra life.
And the fact the duo enjoyed a partnership worth 163 runs – enough to effectively finish the job – was not lost as they moved closer and closer to the victory target.
But the attentions now turn to the defence of the Friends Life t20 title, which starts on Wednesday against Surrey Lions at the Ageas Bowl.