Hampshire have signed Ollie Rayner on a short-term loan deal that will see the 32-year-old play two Specsavers County Championship matches, starting with Wednesday’s day/night encounter with Yorkshire.
Rayner has been signed as cover for Liam Dawson, who is with the England Lions; Brad Taylor, who is out with an ankle injury; and Mason Crane, who is suffering back pain.
Hampshire would have been without a senior spinner without Rayner.
“I’m obviously disappointed to not be featuring in the forthcoming round of Championship matches for Middlesex, however when one door closes, another one opens, and I’ve now got a great opportunity to go and play some First XI cricket with Hampshire,” Rayner said.
He arrives at a critical time. Hampshire will be on a high having qualified for the Royal London One-Day Cup final on Monday – beating Yorkshire in the semi-final – but they remain without a Championship win since the opening match.
They sit a point below their opponents having played a game more. A fourth defeat of the season would surely induce worries of another relegation dogfight.
The same applies to Yorkshire, who have, at least, claimed two victories this season but were trounced by an innings at Surrey in their last first-class outing.
Hampshire gained more experience with the pink ball last season despite losing a day and a half to rain in their draw with Somerset; Yorkshire played just 126 overs because of rain against Surrey. The hosts will hope that experience serves them well given that they don’t have a Championship win at home to Yorkshire since 2008.
Dale Steyn appeared back to his fiery self in the One-Day Cup semi-final, bowling at 87mph and making difficult work for the Yorkshire batsmen. He has just one further Championship game to play for Hampshire – plus the white-ball final – before joining the South Africa Test squad in Sri Lanka.
Steyn didn’t feature in either of his country’s day/night Test matches but the man with 419 Test wickets is unlikely to be fazed by a pink ball.
Gary Ballance is without a first-class century since his last appearance at The Ageas Bowl last April, where he scored a first innings 108 and a second innings 203* to salvage a Yorkshire draw. Against a good Hampshire bowling attack, this will be a stern examination for him but a big score will go a long way to earning his side some much needed points.
Rayner will slot straight into the Hampshire team in the absence of Dawson, Taylor and Crane. Ian Holland could be a surprise inclusion following his match figures of six for 39 in last season’s day/night match.
Hampshire squad: TBA
Wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall will make his first-class Yorkshire debut after featuring in six Royal London One-Day Cup matches this season, having returned to the club in 2016 after release a year prior.
Yorkshire will be without both Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Matthew Fisher, who are with the England Lions, leaving the county missing seven players on England duty with five players in the senior side.
Yorkshire squad: Steven Patterson (c), Jonny Tattersall (wk), Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Ben Coad, Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Jordan Thompson
Weather and conditions
Light rain could drift in on the first evening but it’s set to be largely sunny with warm evenings a stark contrast to the weather for the corresponding fixture last year.
Date: 20th-23rd June 2018
Ground: The Ageas Bowl
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 10/11, Yorkshire 10/11
It’s interesting that Rayner should join Hampshire, a county blessed with an abundance of spin talent, when it’s Yorkshire that desperately need an experienced spinner.
Hope Tattersall goes well on First Class debut.