Hampshire have pulled off an incredible heist to escape relegation after it seemed certain they would go down. Sussex, as a result, have been relegated along with the already relegated Worcestershire.
Hampshire came into this week's final round of fixtures needing two miracles. First of all, they had to gain the five necessary bonus points needed to even be in contention to avoid relegation.
Then they had to beat the third-placed Nottinghamshire, littered with current and former England internationalists including England bowler Stuart Broad, to have a shot at staying up.
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It had all seemed impossible for Hampshire on the second day when 203-8 and still needing 47 runs to secure their second batting bonus point.
Combined with the three bowling bonus points they had already gained, it would have taken them to the five bonus points they needed. They managed to fight their way to 325, trailing Nottinghamshire's first innings score by only 15 runs.
Hampshire then bowled superbly in their second innings, dismissing Nottinghamshire for just 185, including a respectable 90 by former Zimbabwe captain, Brendan Taylor.
Fidel Edwards was the chief destroyer of the Nottinghamshire batting line-up, taking four wickets in the second innings to add to the six wickets he took in the first.
Hampshire needed 200 to win going into an intriguing final day of county cricket for this season. They started very strongly with both openers Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry striking fifties taking the score to 129-0 before Jake Ball struck twice in two balls, bowling both Adams and James Vince.
Will Smith then came to the crease to join the unbeaten Carberry at the crease. The two then proceeded to knock the remaining 71 runs needed to win, giving Hampshire victory by eight wickets.
Out of their hands
The victory gave Hampshire a chance of survival in Division One of the County Championship but everything hinged on the result at Leeds where a victory or draw for Sussex would send Hampshire down to Division Two.
All the while this entertainment was unfolding Hampshire's conquerors from the previous week Yorkshire were taking on Hampshire's fellow relegation contenders Sussex. After the first innings, the scores were very similar with only three runs between them.
Yorkshire then proceeded to post 305 with multiple contributions throughout the order, setting Sussex a difficult 309 runs to win early on the fourth day.
Sussex suffered an early setback with captain Ed Joyce removed for just one. Yorkshire continued to make inroads into the Sussex batting order setting them back to 62-5 after five wickets were shared between Jack Brooks and Tim Bresnan.
There was then a brief fightback by Sussex before the wickets started to fall again and they were bowled out for 208 losing by 100 runs.
Hampshire as a result of all this secured their survival by two points and have sent Sussex down to Division Two for next season whereas Hampshire will remain in Division One.
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