HAMPSHIRE saw another nail hammered into their relegation coffin after their dismal innnigs defeat at Worcestershire.
The club went down by an innings and 33 runs to their closest relegation rivals – a team they surely must finish above to have any hope of staying in division one.
But resuming their second innings on 164 for six on the final day – 131 runs away from making the home side bat again after following on – Hampshire eventually surrendered to 262 all out.
Joe Gatting (59) and Danny Briggs (42 not out) delayed the inevitable but Saeed Ajmal (three for 72) and Jack Shantry (five for 51) boosted Worcestershire’s hopes of avoiding the drop after just 95 minutes of play on the final morning.
Ajmal took two more wickets, giving him match figures of eight for 100 but there were few reasons to be cheerful for Hampshire.
It’s hard to see how they can possibly avoid relegation.
But even in the short term, any sign of a return to form would be a welcome sight.
Gatting showed what could be done by posting a half-century for the second match since his recall. His sensible approach put the conditions into perspective and made sure it would not be a spiritless retreat to a third consecutive defeat for the first time since the relegation season of 2011.
Although it is only Worcestershire’s second win of the season – they also beat Somerset by an innings – they have been competitive in most matches.
But the margin of defeats is a major worry for Hampshire – as their three straight Championship losses have been by nine wickets twice and now an innings.
Gareth Berg (12) fell to the third ball of the day, missing what looked like a straight delivery from Ajmal that went on to hit middle stump.
Gatting and Briggs settled into the second-highest partnership of the innings but having comfortably reached 53 together in 14 overs, Gatting was trapped lbw for 59, playing back to a quicker ball from Ajmal.
Worcestershire needed the new ball to break up more stubborn resistance. Shantry bowled Brad Wheal (10) and finished off the match when Jackson Bird (10) was dismissed.