James Tomlinson admits he is now playing for personal pride after Hampshire’s hopes of escaping from relegation effectively went up in smoke at the Rose Bowl yesterday.
The left-arm seamer saw several chances go down off his own bowling as Warwickshire closed on 296 for three in a game that Hampshire must win to have any chance at all of staying in division one.
At the start of play, the home side needed to overhaul a 17-point gap on Worcestershire to remain in the top flight.
But they ended the first day a further two points adrift as their relegation rivals enjoyed a fruitful day at Durham.
So barring a miraculous recovery in this game and something extraordinary happening in the Durham v Worcestershire clash at Chester-le-Street, Tomlinson knows the battle to stay up is over.
Tomlinson said: ‘We are looking down the barrel of relegation but we have been for four months, really. Our aim is to win this game and play well.
‘It’s all about personal pride.
‘All 11 of us have got that personal pride and I will keep running in, as will everyone else.
‘You’ve got to stick in there as long as you can and you can never say never in this game.
‘Of course we want to stay up, but if it’s to be, it will be.’
Tomlinson, who ended the day with one wicket for 46, was in philosophical mood, despite seeing fielders fail to cling on to a succession of catches from his bowling.
He said: ‘It’s really disappointing, to be honest.
‘I think we bowled pretty well on what looks like a really good wicket.
‘At the end of the day, we have dropped too many catches and we all know that.
‘We could have had them four wickets down early on and it’s a different game.
‘We’ve gone at under three runs per over and we’ve all tried very hard but, ultimately, we’ve had five dropped catches and taken a catch off a no ball.
‘There was a little bit of frustration but I don’t think we got too frustrated. It could have been a lot worse.
‘Nobody means to drop a catch but it’s so disappointing to only have three wickets on the board at the end of the first day.
‘I was happy with the way I bowled, but it happens like that sometimes.’
Hampshire’s fate is still not yet mathematically sealed but Tomlinson is instead focusing on this one game in isolation, rather than the bigger picture, which looks decidedly bleak.
He said: ‘We can’t ignore the table, but we wanted to finish with a win.
‘We want to win a game of cricket and dropping that many catches is not really the way to go.
‘It still gives us a bit of hope that Warwickshire will have to win so they will have to play positively and that could yet give us a chance.’