Hampshire will have finished the 2019 summer quite satisfied with their overall performance. A credible third place finish in the Championship behind the runaway front two, as well as yet another Lord’s final appearance, this time a defeat to Somerset. They will not have been pleased with their T20 efforts, however, only managing a lowly 7th in the South Group in a competition the county has had great success in.
Hampshire found great form with the bat in the Championship last season. On four different occasions they scored over 400 runs in an innings, and only Kent gained more batting bonus points throughout the summer. There is clear talent in the south coast batting line-up, with seven different batsmen averaging in excess of 35 in the red-ball game.
Hampshire’s only downfall was their inability to take 20 wickets consistently, meaning they finished the year having drawn six matches, as many as Essex and Somerset combined.
There is definite validity in the argument that The Ageas Bowl is a batsman’s wicket and that away sides also find it hard to take wickets. Hampshire will need to address this issue before the start of next summer, however.
Promoting academy bowlers Scott Currie and Ajeet Dale will provide more fast bowling options. Currie impressed with his performance for England U-19 at the U-19 World Cup in the winter, and will be keen to make the step up this year.
Hampshire’s T20 failure is not something the county is used to. Finals Day is a common day trip for Hampshire and they would have expected a better showing in 2019. In an attempt to improve this summer, they have signed young Pakistan seamer Shaheen Afridi.
Afridi already has over 50 T20 wickets in his blossoming career as well as a strong showing in the ICC Cricket World Cup. He should provide a bit of fire to the bowling attack and provide a different option with his left arm angle. Afridi will play alongside Fidel Edwards giving Hampshire pace up front, hopefully taking early wickets.
One problem Hampshire found last year was the lack of form with their spinners. Front line leg-spinner Mason Crane struggled massively, averaging over 100 with the ball. That lack of spinner in the attack was a reason for the six draws.
Slow left-armer Liam Dawson also struggled last year with a bowling averaging over 50. Both senior spinners have made Test appearances for England as well as limited overs caps for the national team, and have been a major part of Hampshire’s squad for many years. They have the experience to recover their bowling this year, not to mention incredible ability.
Hamphsire have decided to keep faith with their spinners, opting not to bring another spin bowler into the squad. A decision that seems wise given the ability of both and, if they do regain their form, will see Hampshire’s results only get better in 2020. This decision will also give Crane and Dawson the confidence to relax and have belief that their team is behind them – the best environment to perform on the pitch.
Hampshire overall have been quiet this winter, mainly sticking with their squad as much as they can. A sensible move because of the success of last season and, if they can get their spinners back to their best, this squad has the potential to win a trophy this summer.