Hampshire 219 for 4 (Adams 42, Dawson 47*) v Yorkshire Scorecard
There is nothing like county cricket to remind you that, whatever else is going off out there, the big bad world will keep on spinning. As a new working week began with Britain convulsed by the news that a left-wing political party had elected a left-wing politician as leader, the pitch of public discourse seemed ever more shrill. Was the proletariat about to storm Buckingham Palace? Were the workers uniting to overthrow the establishment? By all available evidence at the Ageas Bowl, where Hampshire were entertaining Yorkshire in Division One of the County Championship, the answer was no.
It might be a stretch to call it entertaining, actually. But, as Jeremy Corbyn could probably attest, excitement is often over-rated. Even the weather seemed flummoxed by the prevailing state of normalcy. The sun shone from the skies even as it tried to rain and, after play had been called off for the day, there was a brief appearance from a rainbow.
None of which tells you much about Hampshire's attempts to avoid relegation but, since their fate remains about as clear as the blotchy skies that hampered play around the country, that is fitting. This was an honest-to-goodness hard-working day of solid Championship battling, unfashionable down to its bootstraps and not much to write home about but nevertheless worthy of its place in the cosmos. It was also being shown on Sky Sports. Those worried about the revolution being televised only had to change the channel for proof to the contrary.
"You can put lipstick on a pig," goes a saying beloved of US politicians, "but it is still a pig." Despite the presence of Sky's cameras, it was hard to dress up a contest featuring one team scrapping at the foot of the table and another who secured their season's fulfilment last week. Yorkshire can still claim records for points and wins since the advent of two-division cricket but, as the eventual defeat at Lord's perhaps suggested, their fire appears to have been doused after retaining the Championship for the first time since the 1960s.
Hampshire were, understandably, more concerned about not making a pig's ear of things after being inserted on a wet September morning. They largely succeeded, amid the showers, compiling 219 runs for the loss of four wickets in 78 frill-free overs - well, aside from some late embroidery by Sean Ervine, who punched five boundaries in 26 off 25 balls before a final deluge brought an early close. The forecast suggests this match might end up in a watery grave but Hampshire will be striving to ensure they are not interred with it.
There was some logic to their approach, given that the two clubs above them, Sussex and Somerset, are currently duking it out. Hampshire began this round 11 points behind and knowing that there is no likely scenario where both will be out of sight. If there is a result at Hove, a draw against Yorkshire would see them creep closer to the loser; a stalemate would not change the overall picture by much, leaving Hampshire to try and target a win over Nottinghamshire in their final match and hope that either Sussex or Somerset slip up.
Such calculations rely on Hampshire not losing here and there would have been trepidation as well as precipitation in the air after Andrew Gale won the toss. In the event, Hampshire's suitably on-trend lefty opening pair of Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry saw off the new ball with grit, application and a little luck, before a solid fourth-wicket partnership between Will Smith and Liam Dawson took them towards higher ground.
This match is the last for which Hampshire's retiring groundsman, Nigel Gray, will prepare a pitch but although a greenish tinge caught Gale's eye, the surface played true. Adams passed 50 for the second innings running - having not done so for the previous 18, a run of form that prompted him to hand the captaincy to James Vince - and drove pleasantly through the covers before being tempted by one that Steve Patterson pushed across him invitingly. As the edge landed in Andy Hodd's gloves, Adams may have been guilty of some unparliamentary language.
Yorkshire were true to their attacking selves, stacking four men in the slips at times, but the ball swung only intermittently - most often out of the hand of Matthew Fisher, the 17-year-old whose reward for missing school this week was 16 overs of toil at a thrifty cost of 24 runs. Even the anarchic Jack Brooks, Yorkshire's "Headband Warrior", struggled to run amok, although his frown at Peter Hartley's decision to turn down an appeal for caught behind of Liam Dawson - an edge confirmed by the slenderest of spikes on the Snickometer - told of a desire to reject authority.
The Yorkshire players wore black armbands in memory of Brian Close, who doubtless would have attempted to ruffle the opposition by positioning himself to glower at the batsman, in their soft southern helmets, from short leg. But Hampshire just got on with the dirty, everyday business of trying to survive. And Close would certainly have appreciated that.