For the last half-hour of this Friends Life t20 final, Hampshire had only one aim: dismiss David Miller. They never managed it, well not officially anyway, but somehow they survived his cudgelling assault to win the trophy for the second time in three years. Quite how South Africa can overlook a batsman of such ferocious power for World Twenty20 will be hard for anybody who witnessed his assault to understand.
Ten years had passed since Yorkshire's last trophy, a difficult ten years in which the rebuilding of Headingley had left them mired in debt. They are going to the Champions League Twenty20 next month, and their priority remains promotion from Division Two of the Championship, but the one-day trophy will have to wait.
Yorkshire, though, found a new hero: a muscular 23-year-old import from Pietermaritzburg. Miller finished as the tournament's leading six-hitter, another five disappearing into the night sky against Hampshire. But with 14 needed off Chris Wood's final over, the big hits dried up. He finished on his haunches, 72 not out from 46 balls, the only batsman in the last two matches on a slow, grabby surface whose power hitting was not inhibited.
Hampshire were convinced they dismissed him on 7 when he flicked Liam Dawson's left-arm spin into the leg side and Neil McKenzie plunged forward at short midwicket. The umpire, Rob Bailey, referred it to the third umpire, Nick Cook, who after many TV replays predictably found no conclusive evidence to rule that he was out. Miller looked fortunate; as he began to plop balls into the River Taff, Hampshire looked resentful.
McKenzie made no attempt to disguise his feelings. "I definitely did take it," he said. "I pride myself on being one of the more honest guys around but the umpires decided to take it upstairs."
If Wood's nerve held, so did Danny Briggs', a graceful slow left-armer with the wit to adapt to Twenty20, whose confidence that he can acquit himself well for England in World T20 will be boosted by this experience. He also shrewdly calmed Miller with 21 needed off the last two. "He was hitting so well straight and the straight hits are quite short here so I bowled it a bit shorter to make him go square," he said.
Yorkshire's transformation in the FLt20 this season, overseen by a new Australian coach, Jason Gillespie, had taken them to their first finals day, but a target of 151 was a demanding task on a pitch which suited Hampshire's blend of spin bowlers and cutters so much that their chairman, Rod Bransgrove, might have transported it up from the south coast. Marcus Trescothick, Somerset's beaten captain in their semi-final against Hampshire, had identified 140 as around par and he was a good judge.
Dimitri Mascarenhas needed a fitness test on a shoulder injury after Hampshire's semi-final victory against Somerset after another before the final, but his four overs up front still did its customary damage. Andrew Gale unleashed a few square drives before dragging on a leg-side heave and Joe Root's uncomfortable day ended when the stumps were hit again. Mascarenhas was denied a third wicket of Phil Jaques when Vince failed to hold a running catch from long on.
It was Jonny Bairstow and Miller who provided Yorkshire's surge from 36 for 3 in the semi-final. When Jaques fell to Dawson, another inside edge on a slow surface, they needed to do it again. This time Miller had to do it alone; Briggs found a semblance of turn and Bairstow dabbed a catch to the wicketkeeper.
Yorkshire needed 98 from the last 9 overs, at which point Miller launched his assault. Ervine disappeared for three sixes in an over, Briggs and Wood were punished in turn. But Gary Ballance, another Yorkshire hitter found wanting, fell at third man and Tim Bresnan skied the first ball of the last over into the off side. Miller's one-man show fell short.
Hampshire secured a winning score in conventional fashion, Jimmy Adams and James Vince doing the groundwork. They looked underpowered, but Yorkshire were not quite as sharp as in their semi-final defeat of Sussex.
Vince required some fortune to survive Azeem Rafiq's first over, twice failing to make contact with attacking shots and almost offering Bairstow stumping chances. He made 43 from 37 balls, his grandest statement - when he hauled Richard Pyrah over long on off one knee - ending to a checked drive off the next ball.
Vince 's first boundary did not come until the 15 over, a stylish extra cover drive off Bresnan, and brought up 100 at the same time. Another solid, if unspectacular, innings, 36 from 33, ended when he was bowled by Moin Ashraf, who failed to hit his yorkers quite as unerringly in the semi-final, but who got one through Vince's defences all the same.
Gale entrusted the last over to the blockhole bowling of the tyro, Ashraf, rather than the back-of-a-length know-how of Bresnan, his England bowler, who had conceded only 18 from three overs. It went for 14, not an unmitigated disaster, but it was a decision that was hard to understand.