Yorkshire signal intentions

Yorkshire 427 and 89-0 Hampshire 266 and 249 Yorkshire won by 10 wickets
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AFTER 28 long years of bickering, unfulfilled potential and, most importantly, no championships, it may be too early for the smart money to be heading Yorkshire's way. There is, however, a solid and dependable look about them. In winning comfortably against Hampshire yesterday they not only moved back to the top of the table but exhibited a single-mindedness which is likely to be crucial come September.

If Yorkshire are not yet the complete article and at times yesterday bowled as if affected by the heat, they know only perseverance. Hampshire did not initially seem inclined to hang around for longer than absolutely necessary, despite Harrogate's obvious delight. Disturbed by some adept bowling in the morning there was the faintest suspicion that defeat was all they expected. It was to their temporary credit as well as Yorkshire's temporary loss of control immediately after lunch that they did not entirely subside.

Victory in this match was crucial to Yorkshire. They have lost to Hampshire only once in the past 18 years and in no session of this contest has it looked likely that the number would be doubled. It took them a mere five overs to make the first breakthrough, always a good sign. Hampshire had begun 142 runs behind and had reduced that deficit by only 10 when Darren Gough found the edge of John Stephenson's bat and David Byas took a sharp slip catch. This was the start of a thoroughly probing morning's work by Gough. He bowled straight and, on occasion, fast, and looks once more a man who may trouble the best.

Hampshire lost Kevan James - whose deeply purple period may be coming to an end - when he mis-pulled to mid-on, and then Jason Laney, whose rush of blood in giving Richard Stemp the charge must surely have been down to the sun.

It was the returning Gough who took the most significant wicket. Robin Smith was hardly on top of his game but he had reached 44 unfussily enough when Gough hurried one through his forward shot. The ball cut back, brushed an arm and hit the leg stump. That seemed to be curtains for Hampshire though they strutted on the stage a while longer.

Matthew Keech, in particular, played some grand strokes in his 86 from 150 balls. He was the penultimate wicket to fall, ran out for the second time in the match. Peter Hartley expertly accounted for the rest, sensing that effort on this pitch would reap reward and returned his best figures for a year. Left 89 to win, Yorkshire made them in regulation fashion with Michael Vaughan assembling a hugely attractive 61 with eight fours in the 68 balls it required. Yorkshire will carry this fight to the end.