From fan to final: Hampshire’s Weatherley aiming for more Lord’s memories

From fan to final: Hampshire’s Weatherley aiming for more Lord’s memories

Hampshire's Joe Weatherley. Pic via YouTube

 

Joe Weatherley, you’d wager, probably wouldn’t be among the first few names listed as key players for Hampshire’s Royal London One-Day Cup final with Kent this Saturday.

Leading that list would more than likely be Sam Northeast, the man born in Ashford and who played at Kent for 13 years — ten in the first team — before moving south-west to Hampshire this winter. The sentimentality of his appearance in the final against his former club is lost on no one.

But 21-year-old Weatherley is no stranger to their east coast opponents: he played a handful of games on loan for Kent last season, and scored his maiden first team century against them earlier this season.

“Sam and I were talking about it that I think we’d prefer it not to be Kent,” Weatherley says. “It just adds a different dimension that probably doesn’t need to be there for a final, but we’ve had a few elbows and a few jives with the Kent lads, a few jokes, but equally come what may, whatever the result, we’ll have a beer afterwards and enjoy it.

“It’s a big day for Kent, having been there I know that it’ll be a big day for them. They haven’t been in the final for ten years and it will mean a lot, and they’re in a really good run of form in all cricket this year.”

It’s a big day for Hampshire, too. They haven’t been in a domestic final since their 2012 40-over triumph, despite a quartet of T20 Finals Days since then. The dynasty of four white-ball trophies in as many seasons between 2009 and 2012 has long since passed.

There are still a handful of players who were part of that group — James Vince, Jimmy Adams, Liam Dawson, Chris Wood — but the youthful exuberance, as he puts it, of the likes of Weatherley could be beneficial.

“I remember being there,” he reflects on the 2012 final. “I was there as a fan in the stands with mum and dad watching. I didn’t think I’d be here as quickly as I am but it’s special to have a lot of homegrown players in that 50-over squad.

“There’s a lot of talk about overseas players and Kolpaks and stuff but I think we are producing good young talent. I think in some ways the core of myself, Mason [Crane], Lewis [McManus], Brad [Taylor], Tom Alsop aren’t dissimilar to that [2012] group and hopefully we can push on and do as well as Vincey and ‘Daws’ [Liam Dawson] have done.”

Weatherley was 15 at the time of that final but, despite being in the academy, he had done no training with the club’s second team — a practice he acknowledges is more commonplace now. “I didn’t know the guys and didn’t really know what it had taken to get there,” he says.

This season has been an improvement on last year. He batted in just 12 innings for both clubs last season with a high score of 36 and averaging 19.58; this year, he has two competitive half-centuries to accompany his unbeaten 105 against Kent.

But if the past three months have given him a good opportunity to reshape his record, the trip to Lord’s on Saturday does the same for his record on the ground. He was out for an eight-ball duck on his sole appearance there for English Schools Cricket Association in 2013.

“I was caught down the legside for 0. That was my one and only time. Speaking to [Hampshire Player Development Manager] James Tomlinson a couple of days ago, who went through his career without ever playing at Lord’s, so we know how special it is and hopefully it’s a good crowd and the sun’s out and it’ll be a day to remember.”

With one-day cricket records being smashed left and right — quite literally to deep cover and cow corner, if you like — in recent weeks, there’s no telling what exactly will be a winning score come Saturday. Last year, Alex Hales played an exhibition in brutality with his winning 187* for Nottinghamshire, chasing Surrey’s 297.

Hampshire, meanwhile, have had a variety of scores in their campaign: they’ve won chasing 200, 251, and 304, and defending 348; they’ve also lost chasing 297 and defending 356. It wasn’t until the final group game, against Somerset, that they batted first in a match.

“It’s difficult because England are setting a new benchmark at the moment. Certainly, upwards of 300 isn’t frightening. Vincey encourages us to play a pretty attacking brand and he sets the example there, but if we are to bat first I don’t think that’s a bad thing in the final, to get runs on the board.

“There was a period in the competition where I didn’t think we were ever going to bat first, but it’s certainly nice to bat first a couple of times so we’ve got that experience of doing both.”

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