HAMPSHIRE probably felt giddy at the top of the AXA League table anyway, but they were removed by Nasser Hussain's Essex team after a tight finish at Northlands Road yesterday.
Hussain's innings of 73 contained a few scares, especially against Cardigan Connor's seamers, but he set up the expected victory with a galloping stand of 116 with Ronnie Irani, whose 55 took only 56 balls.
Hussain is another England batsman in scintillating form at the moment, and he was eyeing the first league hundred of his career when Kevan James dived to scoop up a catch at mid-on.
The slow pitch meant that a high number of shots had to be lofted, and a collapse left Essex needing eight off the last over with two wickets in hand, but Peter Hartley delivered the first ball 'into the slot' for Danny Law to drive a six. A wide and a scrambled single ended the game with three balls remaining.
Hampshire's total was given respectability by a good 59 by Adrian Aymes, opening for the first time in a Sunday game.