MASON Crane hasn’t hid his hurt at Hampshire missing the County Championship title by the thinnest of margins, exclaiming: “Jesus, it can be a cruel game sometimes.”

Hampshire were one wicket away from a first Championship win since 1973 after an incredible Lancashire chase of 196 that dragged agonisingly on as last-man Matt Parkinson survived to allow Dane Vilas to see it off.

Crane looked like he could win it alone with the ball in hand and posted figures of five for 41, dispatching a handful of key men as Lancashire scrambled to find something down the order.

But the thrilling third day reached its climax with Vilas sweeping for four and ending Hampshire’s hopes in the cruellest of fashions.

Speaking after the county had been denied an historic title, Crane admitted: "It really hurts.

Daily Echo: Mason Crane posted 5-41 as he inspired the Hampshire attack (Pic: PA)Mason Crane posted 5-41 as he inspired the Hampshire attack (Pic: PA)

“We said we'd keep fighting to the end and that's what we did and I'm proud of the team and everyone for sticking with it.

"Jesus it can be a cruel game sometimes - we were a couple of inches away from winning the Championship and that's tough to take at the minute.

"Bowling in the fourth innings is kind of what I'm in the side for if needed and it's an honour - every run was crucial and at times it felt like it was a big score we had but the wicket got better as the game went on.

"It's tough to take but once the dust settles I would've rather have been in this position than have played in dead rubbers at the end of the season.

"We have put a lot of effort and sacrifice into this season along with blood, sweat and tears and I felt we deserved to be one of the best teams in the competition - we just came up short on the day and that is how it is sometimes."