'Skeg' is again the star turn as fine team effort gives us rare win over Yorkshire

I have played against Yorkshire many times at all levels from Under 15 through to first-class, and had never been on the winning side.

In fact, Hampshire had not beaten the White Rose county since 1990- until last week, that is, when our fantastic win in the Championship at Headingley changed this dismal record.

Clearly, it was important to stop the losing run, but in the context of this season our 119-run victory has made a statement of intent to the rest of the counties in our division.

Firstly, we have shown that we can upstage one of the strongest sides we will come up against this term in their backyard, and secondly, we have proved that we can play well and win without our influential captain, Shane Warne. This didn't come as too much of a surprise to us as players, but will hopefully have silenced a few of the doubters who have suggested that our start this year is simply down to the skipper's influence.

Individually, the whole side has been in good form with significant contributions coming from the entire order. Collectively, too, we have been playing well as a unit, batting and bowling in partnerships and fielding with a shared intensity and purpose. We were doing this when Warney was around and importantly we have carried it on while he has been away on international duty in Zimbabwe.

It was a honour for me, in Shane's absence and with John Crawley still recovering from his knee surgery, to lead the side, but it was largely a case of shifting the odd fielder and making the bowling changes whilst the individual performances carried us through.

The game at Headingley was a cracker, ebbing and flowing and full of incident. Until a short spell either side of tea on the third day when we picked up four quick wickets, three of them to the in-form Dimi Mascarenhas, the match could have gone either way. In fact, at the start of that day, we were in an unpromising position, having been reduced to 73 for 5 the previous evening, a lead of just 80. Though the wicket could be described at best as sporting with balls regularly jumping or shooting off the surface, we knew that a lead of at least 180 would be necessary to give us a chance.

As it happened, the third morning saw an extraordinary passage of play; we scored 199 runs in the session. Though Dimi, Shaun Udal, Chris Tremlett and Alan Mullally all made very useful contributions, the major hand was played by Nic Pothas. Skeg, as we call him, has been in outstanding form this year and followed up his first innings century with a crucial 77. Given the context of the wicket, the Yorkshire bowling attack (six were internationals) and the precarious situations in which he found himself batting (97 for 4 and 64 for 4), this was some of the finest batting I have had the pleasure to witness. He exhibited outstanding skill and courage throughout and was clearly our man of the match.

The turning point of the game for me came a little later than this batting onslaught. In fact, it came in the 40 minutes or so before tea on then third day when our bowlers - Dimi and Chris Tremlett were bowling in partnership - finally got on top of the Yorkshire batting.

Up to that point, the whole game had been going forward apace at a rate of roughly four an over. Though wickets had been falling, more runs were being scored than the favourable bowling conditions should have allowed. Both sides had bowled rather loosely, but at that crucial stage, Dimi and Chris tightened the screw, slowing the run rate and building pressure on the batsmen. Our aim was to put as many balls as possible in the right areas and allow the pitch to do the rest.

Sure enough, having stemmed the flow of runs, a couple of balls misbehaved and we were in amongst the Yorkshire batting. Dimi finished the match with his fifth wicket of the innings (his 25 for the summer make him the current highest wicket taker in the country) when Derek Kenway held on to a skier and the celebrations began.

But, though this was a memorable moment for all of the side, this great game can very quickly bite you on the backside - as we found out on Sunday. The fixture against Lancashire at Old Trafford in the totesport National League was always likely to be particularly tough one. We have a record against the Red Rose county that is almost as poor as against Yorkshire, and Lancashire's strong and balanced squad have enjoyed a start to the season that equals ours.

On the day we never turned up, being slow out of the blocks with both bat and the ball. The target of 190 that we set was always likely to be at least 40 short on a good deck, though an abject performance with the ball meant that it looked more like 100 short!

Warne to return earlier than planned?

Our next couple of games are both one-dayers at Bristol, firstly in the National League this Sunday and then in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy next Saturday (29th). We will have to rectify our mistakes of last weekend quickly or face being exposed by arguably the best one-day side in the country.

There is still a possibility that Shane Warne might be with us for both fixtures, pending the outcome of the current discussions between the ICC and the Zimbabwe cricket Union over the latter's on-going row with 15 white Zimbabwean cricketers.

If these players are not brought back into the fold, the likelihood is that the status of the two upcoming Tests between Zimbabwe and Australia will be downgraded, in which case the matches would be cancelled.

This might mean that we regain our skipper sooner than thought, but we would probably lose the services of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, who made a whole-hearted debut for us in Manchester, as the one-day series between the two countries might be brought forward.

The situation is completely out of our control, but whatever happens we know that if the rest of us can repeat the form shown up to and including Headingley, we have every chance of upsetting Gloucestershire and showing everyone that our start to this term is no flash in the pan.