Hampshire struck a double blow against Warwickshire yesterday when they cruised to a crushing County Championship victory 36 hours before the pair meet in the final of the C&G Trophy at Lord's.
It was the fourth innings defeat suffered by the defending champions Warwickshire this season and will have handed their Lord's opponents a psychological advantage before the one-day showdown.
Yesterday's victory lifted Hampshire above Warwickshire in the First Division table and was a personal triumph for their acting captain Shaun Udal. The off-spinner led from the front with his third five-wicket haul in four championship matches, and his final figures of 6 for 44 were his best of the season.
All this came after Udal had enforced the follow-on shortly after lunch when Warwickshire had been bowled out 318 runs shy only the second time this season the defending champions had been humiliated in this way.
The warning signs were evident from the third over of the day, when Warwickshire's captain Nick Knight reached the 37th hundred of his first-class career.
The Hampshire bowler Andy Bichel made immediate amends by taking the fifth Warwickshire first-innings wicket when Michael Powell fell lbw to one that did not get up a great deal.
Chris Tremlett, looking far sharper than he had on the first day, generated pace and bounce enough to bother the batsmen and keep them and the four slips and gully on their toes.
Oddly, though, Tremlett was only permitted five overs in that spell, in which he conceded just 16 runs, and although he returned a little later, this time from his favoured Pavilion End, he sent down just two overs on that occasion for an unfortunate 20 runs, leaving him with figures for the innings of 2 for 93 off 18 overs.
The most successful of the Hampshire bowlers first time around was Dimitri Mascarenhas, who accounted for Knight when the Warwickshire captain shouldered arms and was given out lbw not offering a stroke. He had dug in for more than four hours for his 116, and the pity of it was that none of his team-mates could emulate his effort.
The even greater pity was that Knight was unable to repeat the feat in the second innings. Knight had reached 24 when he got an inside edge on to his leg stump to give Bichel a deserved wicket.
When Jonathan Trott fell just before tea, lbw to Shane Watson, to be followed in the first over after the interval by the other opener Ian Westwood, the slide was on.
Bichel accounted for Alex Loudon, then Udal worked his magic and Warwickshire were wallowing too many runs adrift to salvage the situation.Reuse content