Ervine helps Hants take big stride to promotion
Hampshire 497 for 8 dec. (Adams 251, Carberry 110) beat Leicestershire 303 (Robson 115) and 160 (Cobb 50*, Ervine 3-22) by an innings and 34 runs
Matt Coles and Sean Ervine each took three cheap wickets as Hampshire took a giant step towards promotion by crushing Leicestershire by an innings and 34 runs at the Ageas Bowl.
Coles took 3 for 67 to give the burly former Kent player seven for the match and Ervine, an occasional bowler these days, took two wickets in his first over to finish with 3 for 22. But in truth the resistance they encountered was late and spasmodic.
Leicestershire were second best throughout and now have three matches in which to prevent an unenviable statistic of going through a season without a win for the second successive year. On the evidence of their last-day capitulation, all out for 160 in the south coast sunshine, it is going to be difficult.
Hampshire's sixth win and with it 24 points was achieved even though only 10 overs were possible on the second day because of rain and bad light. Jimmy Adams declared at his team's overnight score of 497 for 8 with a comprehensive lead of 194. Leicestershire's task was therefore straightforward enough: they had to bat through the last day to avoid defeat and at least make Hampshire bat again.
There had been fears expressed in the Leicestershire camp that the wicket would take turn on the last day but in the event Hampshire spinners Danny Briggs and Liam Dawson were hardly used, the damage having been inflicted earlier on by the pace attack in which Chris Wood also took two wickets.
The outcome was obvious from the 10th ball of the day when Angus Robson, who had batted through 88 overs in the first innings for his maiden century, was sharply caught at third slip by James Vince off Coles. Robson's opening partner, Greg Smith went to a Dawson catch at second slip with the score on 31, again off Coles, and Wood bowled Ned Eckersley with the score 35.
Dan Redfern fended Wood to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater and Leicestershire's plight became hopeless when Niall O'Brien and Rob Taylor departed to successive balls, both to slip catches by Will Smith, when Ervine came on. Taylor had a match to forget, collecting a pair and facing three balls in the first innings and the one in the second.
At 67 for 6, it was just a matter of time but at last there was some Leicestershire defiance, thanks to the bravery of their captain, Josh Cobb, who finished with an unbeaten 50. Cobb shared in stands of 24 for the seventh wicket with Jigar Naik, 27 for the eighth with Charlie Shreck and, to Hampshire's frustration, 42 for the last with Alex Wyatt.
Coles ended Naik's brief flurry with the score on 91 and Ervine came back to have Shreck caught behind, and although Atif Sheikh gave Briggs his only wicket of the innings after failing to score, Wyatt stayed long enough to see Cobb to his half-century.
Cobb faced 107 balls and hit six fours while Wyatt went for his shots, clouting six fours in a career-best 32, beating his previous top score by four runs. But the delay was only temporary and James Tomlinson returned to remove the obstinate Wyatt. Leicestershire were all out in 55.3 overs and Hampshire were celebrating back in the pavilion by 3.25pm.
"Our seamers worked hard for their rewards and their efforts were complemented by our slip catching, which was excellent," victorious captain Adams said. "For a while we held every half-chance and made it a great day for us. The early wickets put Leicestershire under immense pressure and we went from there.
"We had a few draws in mid-season but now we have put together back-to-back wins to put ourselves in the frame. With two matches to go we are in a great position."