Hants romp to innings victory
Matt Coles finished with match figures of 10-154 as Hampshire crushed Essex by an innings and 31 runs soon after lunch on the third day at the Ageas Bowl.
Pace bowler Coles, on loan from Kent and now a free agent, took 4-83 in the Essex second innings to add to his 6-71 in the first as Essex, without several key players, were bowled out in fewer than 43 overs.
The batting strip, so bland all summer, sparked to life in the overcast conditions and left-arm pace bowler James Tomlinson was as destructive as Coles, taking 4-63 as Essex showed little determination to make Hampshire bat a second time.
Following-on 249 behind, Essex were all out for 218 and it would have been less but for a typical big-hitting cameo from Graham Napier of 53 in a 60-ball innings, including two sixes off Coles before the inevitable conclusion.
Essex went into the match without David Masters, Ravi Bopara and Reece Topley, who were all rested, Owais Shah who had retired and Ryan ten Doeschate, away playing in the Champions League. Additionally, their captain James Foster allowed Ben Foakes to replace him behind the stumps.
All this when Essex went into the match with an outside chance of snatching the final promotion slot ahead of Northamptonshire with a big win.
Resuming the third day at 44 for no loss, Essex needed another 205 to avoid being beaten by an innings but wickets tumbled at regular intervals in the morning session. A big Hampshire win - only their second at home this season - came within an hour of the resumption after lunch.
Coles had Jake Middleburgh leg before 11 balls into the day's play and Gautam Gambhir edged Tomlinson to Liam Dawson at first slip in the next over as Essex slumped to 49-2.
Tom Westley became the first of five catches for wicketkeeper Michael Bates at 69 and Greg Smith went the same way, a second victim for Tomlinson, with 73 on the board as Essex quickly subsided.
At 117-6, Essex already looked doomed and although Ben Foakes and Napier at last applied some resistance in a stand of 39 for the seventh wicket, it was too little and far too late to alter the course of a one-sided match.
Coles and Tomlinson returned later to clean up the Essex tail. Tomlinson removed Napier and Sajid Mahmood while Coles, who says he is talking to several counties about his destination next season, finished off by dismissing Foakes for 27 and last man Monty Panesar in the 58th over.
Coles' five-match spell with Hampshire gleaned him a total of 21 wickets, helping his temporary club to 24 points from the win.
Essex collected eight from a match they had to win but never looked like doing so once Foster had won the toss and watched as Hampshire amassed a first-innings total of 456.