Glimmer of hope but Hants need the greatest of escapes

Hampshire's Jimmy Adams ended day two unbeaten on 22
Hampshire's Jimmy Adams ended day two unbeaten on 22
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Hampshire already knew they needed a miracle to postpone the inevitable drop in to Championship division two.

But while they now need a double miracle with a cherry on top, they are – somehow – still in with an outside chance of remaining in division one, when their fate looked as though it was mathematically sealed on day two of their encounter with Warwickshire.

With the visitors racking up the runs before they were eventually bowled out for a mighty 493, a few hundred miles up the road in Durham, Worcestershire appeared to be on the verge of claiming the one bonus point they needed to finish Hampshire off.

But from 255 for three with seven wickets in hand to score the remaining 45 runs to collect the extra batting point, Worcestershire crumbled to 288 all out, meaning they missed out on guaranteed safety by 12 paltry runs.

The obituary was already written, but it wasn’t quite ready to be published just yet.

This couldn’t actually happen, could it?

The realistic answer is ‘decidedly unlikely’.

But sport can sometimes produce the most improbable set of circumstances when you least expect it.

Admittedly, there are some sizeable ifs, but Hampshire could yet finish level on points with Worcestershire and thus stay up by virtue of losing fewer games.

If Hampshire take maximum batting points from their contest – that’s 400 inside 110 overs – if they then beat Warwickshire and if Worcestershire lose at Durham, Hampshire would be safe.

Dead easy.

The first stumbling block would be the batting points and to get to 400 in quick enough time is a challenge in itself.

The next minor obstacle is beating title-chasing Warwickshire who posted nearly 500 in their first innings.

And let’s remember that Hampshire have not recorded a home win in four-day cricket for 14 months.

Then, the final piece of the puzzle is Worcestershire losing – and that factor would appear to be the most likely of the three.

But the fact that Jimmy Adams (22 not out) and Liam Dawson (31 not out) reached stumps on day two at 57 without loss, is at least the first step in the right direction to safety.

It would be up there with the greatest of great escapes if it was to happen.

But at least there is still an ‘if’ to consider.