Head coach David Ripley admitted that it would’ve been ‘cruel’ if Northamptonshire hadn’t achieved promotion to Division One of the LV= County Championship.
The County booked their place in the top flight for the first time since 2004 when Essex failed to achieve maximum batting points against Hampshire.
And Ripley, in his first full season in the job, was a relieved man after his charges delivered the prize.
He said: “We’ve just stuttered a bit and haven’t been at our best in the last couple of games.
“We’ve been out in front since the first game and it would’ve been pretty cruel if we hadn’t got over the line.
“Our cricket has been good in all three formats of the game, we’ve put in some consistently good performances and it’s nice to get over the line.
“We’ve had a little bit of help but you need that over a cricket season and we’ll take it.”
It was apparent from early in the day that the County weren’t going to romp to the 250 they needed to guarantee a top two finish but Ripley acknowledged the fact that Essex had a mightily difficult task to come out on top at the Ageas Bowl.
He added: “They were good bowling conditions this morning like they were yesterday and Alan Richardson is the best bowler in the division.
“We targeted 250 and I thought 200 would be important. I could see Essex getting 350 but 400 would be a long shot and Hampshire have done us a favour.
“It’s a relief because we haven’t dominated the game by any stretch but we’re up.”