Skipper James Vince salutes ‘incredible’ win as Hampshire thrash Northamptonshire by an innings to take over top spot in the LV= Insurance County Championship

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Captain James Vince saluted an ‘incredible’ win as Hampshire took over top spot in the LV= Insurance County Championship Division 1 table.

They beat the rain to thrash Northamptonshire by an innings and four runs at The Ageas Bowl this afternoon to move eight points clear of Surrey.

Hampshire, aiming for only their third ever Championship win, lead Surrey by eight points with two matches remaining. But Surrey, who face Northants next week, have a game in hand.

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‘It is an incredible win,’ said Vince of Hampshire’s 10th success in 12 first-class games this year. ‘The weather played a massive part in the game but I think we were outstanding when we got out there.

Mohammad Abbas took four second innings wickets as Hampshire took over top spot in Division 1 of the County Championship. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesMohammad Abbas took four second innings wickets as Hampshire took over top spot in Division 1 of the County Championship. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Mohammad Abbas took four second innings wickets as Hampshire took over top spot in Division 1 of the County Championship. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

‘To get 400 on that wicket was a massive effort having lost the toss. At that point, we were talking about getting to 300 to secure those batting points so to get 400 was a massive bonus.

‘Then in both innings with the ball we managed to stick at it and take wickets in not much time at all.

‘We deserved the win with the cricket we played, as it was only the weather that was going to get in the way.

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‘But it makes it more meaningful and special that literally the ball after the (last) wicket, it starts to hammer it down with rain. We knew it was going to be the last ball.

‘That extra eight points is huge. It has given the guys so much belief and to win in that fashion is amazing.

‘There is still a lot of cricket to be played. Hopefully, Northamptonshire will put in a better display against Surrey next week and we still have Kent and Warwickshire who will be fighting hard against relegation.

‘There is still eight days of cricket left, we know it is going to be tough, but we have done all we can all season barring the blip at Surrey.’

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Seamer Kyle Abbott didn’t bowl due to a hamstring injury. ‘He’s gone for further scans to make sure it isn’t too serious,’ said Vince. ‘He is confident with the gap we’ve got he’ll be available for Kent. Fingers crossed he’s okay.’

Keith Barker and Mohammad Abbas sent Hampshire to the top of table by sharing seven second innings wickets.

Barker moved to 49 wickets for the season as he took 3-63, to go with another three-for in the first innings, while Pakistan fast-bowler Abbas celebrated 4-32.

Hampshire took the seven wickets needed in 27 overs after the morning had been washed out and the elements taken them off in the afternoon.

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Hampshire were facing the last day without Abbott, the leading wicket-taker in Division 1, with an injury suffered the previous evening.

James Fuller had joked that Hampshire players would go and help the groundstaff with ‘towels and sponges’ to assist with the dry-up, having already seen 90 overs lost over the first three days.

The ever-popular Aneurin Donald took this literally as he manned a broom to sweep water off the covers.

His efforts were rewarded with a 1:30pm start, with 59 scheduled overs.

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Barker thanked them after 12 balls by striking Rob Keogh in front with a ball that stayed low. That was a theme and something Josh Cobb tried to negate the risk of being pinned by moving outside his off-stump.

It saved him the first time off Abbas but the second time he didn’t slide far enough across and departed.

Cobb would not have been too happy with the bizarre situation around his wicket. He and Ricardo Vasconcelos had almost walked over the boundary rope in drizzle before being ushered back, only for the clouds to burst immediately after the finger was raised.

The umpires announced a restart time of 3:30pm, but that news was greeted with more covers being put on, as dark clouds pushed rapidly overhead in heavy winds. This was received with jeers and moans from the Hampshire balcony.

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However, play did start on time, now with 33.5 overs planned and after Northamptonshire bowling coach Chris Liddle had inspected the pitch, and 13 balls into the action the sixth wicket fell.

Abbas bowled back of a length and found subtle away movement off the pitch to find James Sales driving to first slip.

After a period of playing and missing, Vasconcelos swivelled Barker for six before a straight drive took the deficit under 20. But a ball later he was hit on the back pad by Barker and given out for 20.

Abbas then grabbed a quick-fire double. Tom Taylor was brilliantly caught behind by Donald off his inside edge and Ben Sanderson’s off stump took a tumble as the ball straightened.

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The rain started to hammer down again but Fuller refused to allow Mother Nature to win as he castled Jack White to claim the win and bowl the visitors out for 221.

If he had failed to take the delivery, the game would almost certainly have been a draw such was the force of the deluge.