In a week where Leicester City have lifted the FA Cup and Leicester Tigers go for European rugby glory at Twickenham, Paul Nixon’s Leicestershire travel to the Ageas Bowl looking for their first County Championship win of the season.
They face a stern test, though, against a Hampshire side that thumped the Foxes when the sides met at Grace Road in the opening round of matches. James Vince’s superb 231 was the top score of Hampshire’s 612-5, which also saw Tom Alsop & Liam Dawson make centuries. It set up victory by an innings and 106 runs.
Many Leicestershire supporters were fearing the worst for their season at that stage, but things have improved since that opening game and the Foxes had the better of a rain affected draw against Surrey in their last match.
The side is making their first trip to Southampton since the 2014 season and, in a coincidence with the meeting earlier this summer, a Hampshire batsman made a double century and Leicestershire lost by an innings. It was Jimmy Adams on that occasion and Hampshire’s victory took them to the brink of promotion.
After two heavy defeats in succession, Hampshire got their season back on track with victory over Middlesex at Lord’s. Kyle Abbot stood out taking 11 wickets in the match and they were able to dodge the showers to complete the victory on the third evening.
With away fixtures against Somerset & Gloucestershire still to come, this match looks a must-win for Hampshire if they are to keep alive hopes of a top 2 finish in Group 2, and they will be the first county to benefit from the support of their members, as limited crowds return to county cricket for this round of matches.
Leicestershire supporters will be reunited with one of their favourite sons from recent years this week, but sadly for the Foxes faithful Mohammed Abbas will be in Hampshire colours. The Pakistan international took 79 wickets in two seasons at Grace Road and has hit the ground running on the South Coast. In Hampshire’s three fixtures so far at the Ageas Bowl, Abbas has already collected 19 wickets including 6-11 against Middlesex.
Opening batsman Sam Evans was making the headlines for Leicestershire at the start of the season. His opening partner Hasan Azad enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2019 and Evans looks like doing the same in 2021. The 23-year old from Loughborough made his third century in as many matches against Surrey, with a classy 112 against a top class attack.
Hampshire – WDLLW
Leicestershire – LDLLD
Hampshire’s 12 man squad for this fixture includes the return of leg spinner Mason Crane.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Kyle Abbott, Tom Alsop, Keith Barker, Liam Dawson, Ian Holland, Lewis McManus, Mohammad Abbas, Joe Weatherley, Brad Wheal, Sam Northeast, Mason Crane
Nixon has made just one change to his squad. Louis Kimber comes in to the side and Ben Mike takes a few days off.
Leicestershire CCC: Colin Ackermann (C), Hassan Azad, Ed Barnes, Alex Evans, Sam Evans, Gavin Griffiths, Marcus Harris, Lewis Hill, Louis Kimber, Callum Parkinson, Rishi Patel, Harry Swindells (wk), Chris Wright
Weather and conditions
The Hampshire members & supporters with tickets for Wednesday’s opening day are likely to see the best conditions of the match, with showers forecast for the other three days. Ball has dominated the bat in two of the three games played at the Ageas Bowl so far this season, with Hampshire being bowled out for just 79 in their last home game against Somerset.
Date: 19th-22nd May
Ground: Ageas Bowl