Costly drops, injuries, inexperience. It was a case of make your own excuse at Headingley as Andrew Gale’s first Championship match in charge ended in a four-wicket defeat, just their eighth defeat in the competition since 2011.
In reality, most of Hampshire’s batsmen deserve the plaudits for a team effort that saw them overhaul the side who have won two of the past three County Championship titles.
Only Sean Ervine was dismissed for under 37, and when Gareth Berg lofted Ben Coad for a magnificent straight six to seal the victory, Yorkshire were left to scratch their heads over how they will recover to challenge for their third title in four seasons.
Both Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry were dropped in the opening half an hour, and the Yorkshire bowlers continued to elicit encouraging groans from the home crowd by forcing small errors from both batsmen.
The runs kept coming, though, and Carberry looked increasingly comfortable and authoritative, striking the ball with power and timing.
It was Coad again who broke the deadlock. Carberry just failed to get on top of a decent bouncer and Patterson settled comfortably under the catch.
It was typical Carberry batting followed by a typical Carberry dismissal. Fans of Hampshire, and cricket in general, will be relieved to see the former England opener back in his old ways after missing most of last season due to cancer treatment.
Either side of lunch, new man James Vince showed some intent, firing up his trademark drive at most opportunities. As the afternoon wore on and the target crept below 175, Vince started to time the ball better.
The second part of his innings showed all the reasons why he was attractive to the England selectors, while the first part had shown all the reasons why his Test career never took off.
It was Azeem Rafiq who brought Yorkshire back into the game, trapping Adams lbw with the first ball of his second spell. While the change of pace worked out for captain Gary Ballance, it is possible that he let Adams and Vince soak up the pressure from the seamers for too long before bringing on his spinner.
Rilee Rossouw and Vince are similar players in many ways: attractive strokemakers with a bit of a reputation for soft dismissals and a lack of consistency against top-quality opposition. Vince’s runs dried up after losing Adams and he pushed a low return catch to Coad.
Rossouw’s early scoring shots were all dazzling boundaries. He was patient and decisive, two qualities that will serve him well on English pitches. He punished Bresnan for dropping too short, unleashing a powerful cut shot towards the empty West Stand to take himself into the twenties.
Sean Ervine, another cricketer who turned his back on an international career to represent Hampshire, was attempting a similar shot off Bresnan with tea in sight, but played it with none of Rossouw’s conviction or flair and was pouched safely by Andrew Hodd.
For all the style of Rossouw’s boundaries, he was tied up by Rafiq and he was not rotating the strike: he managed just one single off his first 52 balls. He resorted to running hard and testing the fielders to take singles.
When the new ball was taken, Rossouw sparked back into life with a confident drive and a dismissive cut shot off the last two shots of Bresnan’s first over, and Dawson joined in by sending Coad’s next two balls to the ropes. An edge fell just short of Adam Lyth at second slip then bounced awkwardly to give Hampshire their 18th run off five balls.
Rossouw remained in the mood to try his luck against the new ball. He survived a thick inside edge that could easily have dislodged his stumps and fell just three short of his fifty, flashing Bresnan to Hodd in a virtual carbon copy of Ervine’s dismissal earlier in the innings. Despite not having a great game with bat or ball, Bresnan suddenly had his sixth of the match. He was to add a seventh in spectacular style.
Dawson thumped a good delivery hard and to Bresnan’s left. He took an athletic tumble and clasped the ball tightly with his wrong hand. At 263-6, Yorkshire must have finally felt that this slippery fixture was nailed down, but Berg and Lewis McManus refused to give way.
The two men batted with a blend of patience and timing, picking off the increasing number of loose deliveries as Ballance was forced to rotate his bowlers.
As the target approached and the result became clear, Yorkshire’s fielding and bowling frayed at the edges and the final 33 runs were polished off in just four overs. Yeah IPL, talk nah.