Hampshire Season Preview 2024

Hampshire Season Preview 2024

If you are a Hampshire supporter your feelings about the 2023 season will depend on whether you are a glass half full or half empty sort of person. They finished third in Division One of the Championship, lost in the semi-final of the Blast and then, somewhat surprisingly, went down to Leicestershire in the final of the One Day Cup. Plenty of good things, but no silverware, although supporters of most other counties will feel it’s not a bad place to be.

Hampshire start the season with predominantly the same squad as last year. They will be looking for more consistency from some of their batters, but they have an effective seam attack and a spinner who took 49 wickets at 20.00 in last year’s County Championship.

Mohammad Abbas was their leading wicket taker with 53 at 20.05 and the Pakistan quick returns for a fourth season on the south coast. He is a rare overseas player who completes a full season with their county, Hampshire benefiting from the 34-year-old no longer being in his national team’s thoughts. Similarly Kyle Abbott played all but one of the Championship fixtures in 2023, the South African not having represented his country since he signed a Kolpak deal in 2017. His 44 wickets at 21.77 mean that he and Abbas form a formidable new ball attack. Then there are Keith Barker, Jake Fuller and all-rounder Ian Holland to back them up! However, most of these bowlers are in their mid to late thirties, so they will be looking at some of the younger players coming through. One of those is 22-year-old Scott Currie, who has already represented Scotland in three ODIs and taken 12 wickets in four first class matches. He will be going out on loan to Leicestershire for the season, to ensure he gets game time. Brad Wheal is another Scotland seamer, who Hampshire will be hoping can stay fit this summer.

Liam Dawson had one of his best seasons, scoring 840 runs at 40.00, with three centuries, alongside his 49 wickets. This has led to calls for the England selectors to add to his three Test appearances, but at 34-years-old, they seem to be favouring the younger cohort. The dominance of Dawson has led to another Hampshire player with short-lived Test experience, leg-spinner Mason Crane, going on a season long loan to Glamorgan.

James Vince was the one Hampshire batter to pass the 1000-run mark last summer, but Nick Gubbins with 969 was not far behind. They stuck with Fletcha Middleton at the top of the order, but he was joined by a variety of partners during the season, none of whom were able to cement their place. Hampshire have a number of young batters who are vying for a regular first team slot and they have added Ali Orr to the mix. The 23-year-old scored over 1000 runs for Sussex in the 2022 Championship, but struggled last season, making just 322 runs at 26.83, with one half century. He will be hoping a move along the coast will allow him to recover his form and it may be that he will open with Middleton.

Hampshire have a history of performing strongly in white ball cricket, winning the Blast in 2022. They almost matched that in 2023 and undoubtedly will be challenging in all formats this summer. They have a number of players who are in demand around the world in T20 competitions and with the T20 World Cup taking place in June, have mixed and matched their overseas signings. Australian all-rounder Michael Neser, who has been with Glamorgan for the last two seasons, will play in the first half of the Blast and then be replaced by Naveen-ul-Haq. The Afghanistan quick, who has played 170 T20s around the world, will arrive in July, after the completion of the World Cup. Australian wicket keeper/batter Ben McDermott will return for his third season of T20 cricket with Hampshire, although he might still be hoping for a call up to the World Cup. He last played for Australia in a series against India last December, although was absent from the squad that was selected to play the West Indies in February.

Key player

All teams love having a quality all-rounder and when you have one who would earn their place for both their batting and bowling alone, then you have someone special. Given Liam Dawson’s performances last season, he clearly fulfils that job description. He needs just four more first class wickets to reach the 300 mark and has over 9000 first class runs. He is equally adept at the shorter formats, playing in multiple franchise competitions around the World and it is only a little over a year ago that he was pulling on an England shirt. Further caps are not out of the question.

One to watch

Hampshire showed faith in Fletcha Middleton at the top of the order and the 22-year-old will be hoping to be able to repay that this summer. He is the son of past Hampshire opening batter Tony Middleton, who went on to become their batting coach. Clearly hours in the back garden have paid dividends and Middleton has had a productive winter playing in the Victoria Premier League. His only first team century was in a One Day cup game against Derbyshire in 2022, but the expectation is that he reaches three figures again soon.

Overseas signings: Kyle Abbott (South Africa), Mohammad Abbas (Pakistan), Michael Neser (Australia, first eight T20 group matches), Naveen-ul-Haq (Afghanistan, final six T20 group matches), Ben McDermott (Australia, for T20)

Ins: Ali Orr (Sussex),

Outs: Aneurin Donald (Derbyshire), Ross Whiteley (Derbyshire), Scott Currie (Leicestershire, season-long loan), Mason Crane (Glamorgan, season-long loan), Jack Campbell (released), Harry Petrie (released)

How will they fare: Hampshire have the players to be able to challenge in all three competitions. Another trophy does not look too far away, but whether they quite have the squad to overtake Surrey and Essex in the Championship remains to be seen.

Opening fixture: CC vs Durham on April 5 at Seat Unique Riverside, Chester-le-Street

Season Odds (SkyBet):

County Championship – 10/1

T20 Blast – N/A

One-Day Cup – N/A

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