Hampshire 348 for 9 (Vince 171, Northeast 58) beat Yorkshire 241 (Tattersall 89, Dawson 4-47) by 107 runs
The fourth ball James Vince received in this match was pitched slightly short and would have passed a foot outside off stump had he not hit it between mid-off and extra cover for four. Most batsmen would probably have let the thing go and acquired a little more knowledge about the pace of the Ageas Bowl wicket. But Vince is not to be numbered among that majority, a point made plain when he rocked back and put his bat to the ball with a minimum of force. Perhaps at that moment Yorkshire's new captain Steve Patterson knew his team might be in for some trouble; for their part, Hampshire supporters knew they might be in for a treat. Both parties were correct. The bowler, Matthew Fisher, trudged back to his mark.
Five other Yorkshire cricketers had similarly reflective walks ahead of them this memorable afternoon. By the time he was dismissed, caught at long-on off Adam Lyth in the 46th over of the innings, Vince had hit 19 further fours and three sixes in 171 runs scored off 126 balls. Hampshire's total of 348 proved far too many for their opponents, who lost their first three wickets for 47 and were eventually bowled out for 241. Yorkshire's only consolation was provided by Jonathan Tattersall, whose career-best 89 gave matters a patina of respectability. The truth, however, was that much of Yorkshire's innings seemed weirdly unrelated to the one it had followed.
The talk will now be of consequences and contexts. It is Hampshire who will face Kent in the penultimate Lord's final a week on Saturday. That will be something of an occasion for Sam Northeast, who will play against the side he used to captain. Yorkshire folk may argue that they would be in St John's Wood had they been able to select the five players currently on England duty. Yet nothing, including the easy-paced pitch on which this game was played, should detract from Vince's artistry or the ease with which he and Northeast dissected Yorkshire's attack during their 142-run stand for the third wicket. Some of the Hampshire's captain's shots were so perfect in their execution that it barely mattered that this was a match of some importance. "Do not choose a coward's explanation that hides behind the cause and the effect," sang Leonard Cohen in "Alexandra Leaving".
Vince is an alchemist. When he bats as he did against Yorkshire it is difficult to believe even Tom Graveney's timing possessed greater caressive power. His pulls through midwicket are Laxmanesque in their effrontery. On afternoons like this he takes his place at cricket's top table. Curiously there were none of the signature front-foot cover drives after which the ball accelerates to the rope as if late for something. But there was a whip through the leg side off Fisher, a drive through point off Ben Coad and a sweep off Kyle Carver. Vince's eloquence at the wicket makes post-match interviews unnecessary. What can he say that he has not already shown?
Yorkshire's bowlers took two early wickets but their others could be viewed by Hampshire as acceptable collateral damage in the headlong pursuit of runs. Ben Coad removed Jimmy Adams and Joe Weatherly but Kyle Carver's slow left-arm was savaged. When the pundits stopped talking about Vince, they agreed Yorkshire's batsmen would need to mount one of their great run-chases if they were to chase down 349.
As it turned out, though, the second half of this non-contest was the sort of anti-climax typical of one-sided limited-overs games. Chris Wood had Lyth leg before in the fourth over of the innings, although there were suggestions the ball was going over the top; Dale Steyn, who immediately bowled with more pace and purpose than anyone else, had Cheteshwar Pujara caught at slip off the shoulder of the bat for nought. Four of Yorkshire's middle-order made twenties while Tattersall learned something about first-team cricket. Liam Dawson picked up two early wickets and two more in his final over to finish with 4 for 47. Wood took the last wicket when he had Coad caught at mid-off by Vince.
Now a November evening, rain scudding against the windows. A night for the hearth. One thinks of the cricket season which ended a couple of months ago. It takes a moment to recall who won the major honours. But one image is stored safely and summoned without effort. It captures a batsman playing a square drive, the ball passing a few yards to the right of a motionless backward point. Just for that moment, one believes the gentle lie that art is simple ease.