HAMPSHIRE remain focused on beating the drop despite seeing their County Championship survival hopes dealt a devastating blow on Saturday.
Time is running out for Giles White’s men after they were docked eight points for a ‘poor’ pitch following their clash with Nottinghamshire at the Rose Bowl.
But the club have accepted the decision – which left them with one less point than they started the fixture – and will focus on launching an unlikely survival charge.
‘The club accepts the judgement of the pitch panel committee in good faith,’ a statement said.
‘We now wish to concentrate on our aims of avoiding relegation from division one of the County Championship and defending our Twenty20 crown.’
The ECB pitch panel, comprising Tony Pigott and Mike Denness, ruled that the surface offered excessive turn.
Spinners took 25 of the 36 wickets to fall, with Samit Patel taking a career-best seven for 68 and Danny Briggs claiming six for 65.
Hampshire were already bottom of division one and now have just 39 points.
They are 36 points adrift of eighth-placed Worcestershire with seven four-day games remaining.
It is the second time in two seasons Hampshire have been penalised for a poor pitch, having been punished after a t20 match against Somerset last summer.
That meant they started this year’s Friends Life t20 on minus two points.
And Hampshire are the second county to be hit by a pitch penalty this season after Warwickshire lost eight points for the surface they produced at Edgbaston for the match against Lancashire.
A statement from the ECB said: ‘Having interviewed the umpires, the captain and coach of both teams and the head groundsman, the pitch panel determined that the pitch demonstrated excessive turn and therefore should be rated poor.
‘As a consequence and in accordance with regulations Hampshire are deducted eight points from their County Championship tally.’
Imran Tahir had earlier saved the game for Hampshire in dramatic fashion, as the visitors’ late charge for victory came up short.
With four balls to go, Nottinghamshire needed just six runs but Tahir had Steven Mullaney stumped and then tied Chris Read down.
Hampshire had begun the final day at 86 for six.
Wicketkeeper Michael Bates made 31 and Chris Wood scored 28 as they put on 53 for the seventh wicket.
Eventually, Patel finished off the Hampshire resistance at 171 when Bates, who had faced 110 balls, was caught in the slips.
Hampshire reduced the visitors to 14 for three in reply, as they took a firm grip on the contest.
Riki Wessels (43) and Adam Voges (79) hit back, putting on 130 in 56 overs, before Wood removed the former and Voges departed at 149 to Tahir.
But Nottinghamshire cut their target to 11 off the last over only to see Mullaney stumped by Bates off Tahir.
Read and Andre Adams then had no answer to the impressive Tahir as the match ended in a draw.