When Warwickshire visit the Ageas Bowl this week, Hampshire will be eagerly looking for revenge.
Who can forget the final day of last season when Liam Norwell’s inspired bowling saved Warwickshire from relegation and denied Hampshire the runners up spot in the Championship? For sure, Hampshire supporters can’t erase it from the memory banks, however hard they try. Fortunately for them, their nemesis has had more career injuries than Emma Raducanu, has yet to make an appearance this season and remains sidelined with a back problem.
Hampshire come into this match on the back of the biggest win in their Championship history, a crushing defeat of Northants by an innings and 270 runs. This was a match – or more realistically, a mis-match – where they scored over 50 runs per wicket and dismissed their opponents for little more than ten runs per wicket.
Overall so far, the home side have won two matches and lost one, whereas Warwickshire have won, lost and drawn a match apiece. What the two sides have in common is a heavy defeat to Surrey, the Bears most recently by nine wickets..
The teams are also alike in placing reliance on talented and capable pace attacks. Hampshire have, in Mohammad Abbas, the leading wicket taker so far with 21 scalps at under 14 runs apiece; and he is backed up by James Fuller and Kyle Abbott. Warwickshire have Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Chris Woakes plus two formidable newcomers to the team in Chris Rushworth and and Ed Barnard so being spared from facing Liam Norwell may prove a mixed blessing for the Hampshire batters.
If the weather relents, we should have a fascinating contest with one team or the other crowned the victors by the weekend.
Mohammad Abbas has come a long way since his early days working as a welder in a leather factory and would seem, at age 33, to be still at the peak of his bowling powers. A sometimes flaky Warwickshire batting line up will need all their skill and maybe a little luck to prevent him from adding significantly to his tally of wickets over the next four days.
Chris Woakes has made it clear that his target is a place in the Ashes line-up. So far this season, he has not really made his case for a Test recall. A top score of 27 and just five wickets at 26 suggest that he has not yet returned to his best. From the Bears’ perspective, now would be a great time to show that he is still a top-class all-rounder.
Hampshire have named the eleven who recorded that record victory at Wantage Road, though Keith Barker, who missed out against Northants, is in the squad and would no doubt love to play against his old club.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbot, Keith Barker, Ben Brown, Liam Dawson, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, Ian Holland, Fletcha Middleton, Felix Organ, Tom Prest
Warwickshire will be without promising all-rounder Jacob Bethell who has a stress fracture. Overseas player Hasan Ali is rested and Henry Brookes is not available because he has gone to Derbyshire on loan. If spin is needed, Danny Briggs could come into the team; if not, Craig Miles may get the nod.
Warwickshire squad: Will Rhodes (c), Ed Barnard, Chris Benjamin, Danny Briggs, Michael Burgess, Alex Davies, Sam Hain, Olly Hannon-Dalby, Craig Miles, Dan Mousley, Chris Rushworth, Chris Woakes, Rob Yates
Weather and Conditions
As all writers of previews know, there are lies, damned lies and weather forecasts.
That being so, let us refrain from assuming that, with rain clouds allegedly looming over the fair city of Southampton, this match is destined to be a draw. Maybe the forecasters have consulted the wrong bunch of seaweed. If so, and given a pitch providing at least some encouragement to bowlers, there could just be enough fine weather for a definite result.
Date: 4-7 May 2023
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Ageas Bowl, Southampton