Hampshire’s County Championship dream still alive after victory at Gloucestershire sees them qualify for Division 1

Hampshire qualified for Division 1 of the LV= Insurance Championship with a seven-wicket win over Gloucestershire on the final day at Cheltenham.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 6:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 7:20 pm
Occasional bowler Joe Weatherley took the key wicket of centurion Tom Lace as Hampshire finished top of their County Championship qualifying grooup. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

They were made to work hard as Tom Lace’s 118 led 126-overs of second-innings resistance but Gloucestershire were eventually bowled out for 310 and the target of only 54 was dealt with after tea, writes ALEX SMITH.

It ended Gloucestershire’s dreams of a maiden Championship title as they missed out on a top two finish in Group 2 despite winning five matches - only Yorkshire won as many.

But three heavy defeats from their final four games - taking a total of just six points from those losses - have cost them dear.

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As for Hampshire a fourth group win saw them finish second behind Somerset, who were unable to force victory against Surrey at The Oval.

They were well behind here after a weak first innings but, in a repeat of the return fixture back in May, made a good fist of trying to bat through the final day to save the game, with the draw good enough to stay above Hampshire.

Hopes rose of another great escape as Lace made his first century for Gloucestershire but he became just the fifth first-class victim of Joe Weatherley’s career and no-one else could match his longevity.

The day began, like day two, with an immediate reward for Hampshire as Glenn Phillips was trapped leg before by Colin de Grandhomme fifth ball of the day. Phillips thought he’d hit it. Replays were inconclusive.

Ryan Higgins and Jack Taylor formed useful stands with Lace but Higgins drove loosely at Keith Barker and edged to slip three overs before lunch and Taylor played around Kyle Abbott and lost his off stump.

Lace remained. He pulled de Grandhomme to reach a 114-ball fifty before Barker was flicked through square leg and then steered to third man to raise a century in 214 balls with 12 fours and two sixes - a pair of top-edged pulls off Abbott and Wheal.

But his fine effort ended in agonising fashion as he shouldered arms to Weatherley’s very part-time off-spin and was plumb lbw. He and the rest of the county hung their heads.

Ollie and Tom Price hung around for 22 overs before another groaning dismissal as the former pulled a Mason Crane long-hop into short leg’s back and the rebound popped up for leg slip.

Matt Taylor was then lbw to Wheal shouldering arms before Dan Worrall drove to point.

Worrall (3-21) made early inroads into the Hampshire victory chase, but Ian Holland (19), Nick Gubbins (13 not out) and de Grandhomme (12 not out) gave the visitors only their second first class win at Cheltenham since 1971.