Hampshire 226 (Gubbins 54) and 178 (Vince 52, Patterson-White 5-41) beat Nottinghamshire 155 (Slater 55, Patterson-White 53, Barker 7-46) and 127 (Dawson 5-45) by 122 runs
Nine wickets in the final session meant Hampshire beat Nottinghamshire to leapfrog them at the top of the County Championship table and put them in pole position to win their first title since 1973. Hampshire's captain, James Vince, announced, "the Championship is in our hands", but there could be trouble for his side after Nottinghamshire skipper Steven Mullaney dubbed the Ageas Bowl pitch, "unacceptable for a first-class game".
Spinners Liam Dawson and Felix Organ both took season's bests, with for 45 and 3 for 22 respectively, as Nottinghamshire's final eight wickets fell in 30 overs as Hampshire won by 122 runs. Depending on the result between Yorkshire and Warwickshire tomorrow, Hampshire's fixture against Lancashire next week could be a straight shootout for the title. Meanwhile, defeat for Nottinghamshire sees them slip to third in the table but only 6.5 points from top spot after the title race was blown wide open in Southampton.
Watching a home team bowl themselves to victory is one of cricket's greatest pleasures. Each wicket brings an explosion of joy and tangible progress compared to the prolonged mental anguish of witnessing a chase. The ripples of applause that accompany a boundary are replaced by roars of jubilation as another wicket falls.
That the crowd witnessed anything at all was a surprise in itself. The forecast had been apocalyptic as recently as the day before and as of 9:30am it was grey and horrible. At a guess, the 25,000 seater, international cricket venue had an official attendance at that point of one, as a single brave soul sat in the stands reading his book.
However, his optimism was well rewarded. The skies cleared and an early decision was made to start play at 1pm which saw hundreds filter into the ground. From a position of no hope we all of a sudden had the pleasant surprise of an intriguing day's play ahead. It was the cricket fan's equivalent of pulling on an old pair of trousers and finding a fiver in the pocket.
Hampshire were resuming the day on 133 on 7 and 204 runs ahead with Brad Wheal and Keith Barker at the crease. Barker is perhaps one of the most competent cricketers in the country while being one of the least visually stimulating. He bats with absolute simplicity and bowls with refined skill as opposed to express pace. He also wears trousers three sizes too small and red socks that are constantly on show.
This morning, he added 18 crucial runs to his overnight total by taking the attack to Nottinghamshire's bowlers and his 29 lifted Hampshire to their lead of 250 that in the end proved too much.
For Notts, Liam Patterson-White was the pick of the bowlers as he produced a career-best performance of 5 for 41 to follow his maiden first-class century against Somerset last week. However, the problem for Nottinghamshire was that the reason for his success would soon become the reason for their demise. The ball had started spinning.
The 250 Notts required for victory would be the highest score of the match. However, while it would be a challenge, it didn't seem altogether impossible. And at 64 for 1, the mood in the ground was tense.
The reason for Nottinghamshire's strong start had been the aggression of Ben Duckett. Dawson's introduction had prompted Duckett to whack him out of the attack as soon as possible. Sweeps were followed by reverse sweeps which were followed by paddle sweeps. Dawson's second over went for 10 runs and he wouldn't be seen again until after Duckett had departed.
Seam had appeared relatively ineffective up to this point, the nagging lines and lengths of Barker and Mohammad Abbas proving merely irritating to the Nottinghamshire batters as opposed to problematic.
In his tenth over, however, Abbas found some genuine movement. He rapped Duckett on the pads with a ball that seamed in and pleaded with umpire Martin Saggers in a combination of certainty and desperation. Not out. He then beat Duckett's outside edge with one that moved away and had a long conversation with him that was presumably entirely polite and not at all questioning his apparent inability to make contact with the ball.
The over had an air of something about to happen and, sure enough two balls later, it did. Abbas struck Duckett on the pad again and it was out. The crowd wanted it. Hampshire wanted it. It was theatre. Sometimes in cricket, you're simply the victim of momentum sucking you in and your demise is just collateral to what the occasion demands and deserves. Today, Duckett was collateral. As the umpire's finger rose, Abbas roared in the direction of Duckett.
As soon as Duckett left, spin returned and Dawson found sharp turn, producing excellent deliveries to have Clarke and Mullaney caught at slip. Such was his success that Hampshire brought on the off-spin of Organ at the other end and between them they took the remaining eight Notts wickets. Yes, it was a collapse, but sometimes in cricket, you're simply the victim of momentum sucking you in, and your demise is just collateral to what the occasion demands and deserves.
"I don't think we can fault any effort from the lads," Mullaney said. "I thought at the toss they got it right, but a couple of decisions didn't go our way, if I am honest it wasn't a great pitch, personally I thought it was unacceptable for a first-class game.
"We knew it was going to be a result pitch and Hampshire got it. But we are still in with a chance of winning the County Championship. If we look at it in isolation, we dropped five catches in their first innings and didn't bowl great in the second half of their first innings. But ultimately we weren't good enough and Hampshire deserved the win."
Watching a home team bowl themselves to victory is one of cricket's greatest pleasures. Today, Notts turned out to be collateral.
Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby