Hampshire Cricket History

What’s the worst thing that can happen?
September 24, 2017, 7:47 am
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Obviously, particularly in the contemporary world, many worse things than losing a cricket match or being relegated. I have a feeling Hampshire will escape – probably right at the end for the third year running – but if they don’t?

On the radio ball-by-ball this week Don Topley was describing Hampshire as the “consistently most inconsistent of teams”, and match-by-match that’s probably true. But over their three seasons in Div One they have been consistently the worst side, relegation-threatened every year with no discernible improvement. There was a feeling that they started better this year but in truth they beat a Yorkshire side lacking many key players in the first match, since when they have two victories, against the bottom two.

Meanwhile Notts and Worcs who went down in that period appear to be returning, both with rebuilt sides, Worcs to a large extent (like Essex) home-grown.

And Hampshire? If they survive to play a fourth year what are their chances? Perhaps they’ll go out and buy some ‘instant fixes’, in which case I will simply say Coles, Wheater, Topley, Rossouw.

Perhaps they’ll look at the youngsters and 2nd XI. Here’s a fact then: In the ten seasons from 2000-2009 Hampshire gave debuts and then caps to Chris Tremlett, Jimmy Adams, James Tomlinson, Liam Dawson, James Vince, Danny Briggs; six pretty good cricketers, four involved with England and all having pretty full careers. Four of them were born within the county (inc IOW) and all came through our age group sides.

In the eight seasons since then (2010-present) Hampshire have brought through and given debuts to another group of ‘our own’, but of those that survive, not one has been capped or is clearly established in the Championship first team: Chris Wood, Tom Alsop, Brad Taylor, Lewis McManus, Mason Crane, Joe Weatherley, Felix Organ. Even Mason has played just six matches in the Championship this year, bowling fewer than 200 overs (16 wickets at 41 each).

‘Carbs’ has finished, Adams, Ervine and Smith are near the end, the cutting edge of the attack comprises three men, Abbott, Edwards and Berg all over thirty. Have the main 2nd XI bowlers like Salisbury, Sole and Hart shown the promise to play a full Championship season? I doubt it.

So, what’s the bigger tragedy – relegation and a chance to rebuild, hopefully like Essex and Worcs around a core of real Hampshire cricketers, or the present lot, with a couple more underperforming transfers and Kolpaks, limping through another Div One season?

Who Would You Pick?
September 23, 2017, 7:50 am
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Hampshire’s confidence is clearly shot, although a few players are still obvious choices either through their performances (eg Abbott) or necessity (eg Alsop)

Hampshire have three victories this year; the first against a weakened Yorkshire side, more than five months ago (and despite a first innings total of 141) and then against the two bottom sides Somerset and Warwickshire. They have lost two and drawn five of their last seven.

The bowling appears fairly OK, so players like Wheal or Salisbury might be unlikely selections, although I hope Crane plays his seventh Championship match. But who should he replace, and who bats? Who is waiting in the wings to perform heroically next week? Organ? Dickinson? They have a career record of one Championship match each, scoring 16 and 1.

Is James right, that Hampshire should select Will Smith who has not played in the first team all year? Maybe Chris Wood should play predominantly as a batsman – he’s been scoring runs for the 2nd XI. The cupboard if worryingly bare in terms of alternatives.

Or perhaps they should leave everything alone, and challenge those players who have created the problem to solve it.

A Better Reality?
September 22, 2017, 6:22 pm
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I’m just back from an early evening visit to Broadhalfpenny Down and the Bat & Ball

Broadhalfpenny Down

For the first time in nearly 60 years, I’ve pretty much stopped watching Hampshire for reasons you all know, but it doesn’t stop me feeling angry and frustrated by what’s happening.

I had to go to Hambledon today with Mrs A, to check the arrangements for our twice-yearly lunch for cricket lovers and historians. Every time I go there, it triggers all kinds of positive feelings about the game I love. The first-class county game is a mess and so are Hampshire, but there is a stronger truth about the great game embodied in a place like Hambledon, with its beauty and its ghosts.

At least I think there is. Or maybe this is just the rambling of a sad old bloke who won’t accept the world as it is.


Thank You ECB
September 22, 2017, 2:42 pm
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I’ve ranted quite a lot about the reduction in Championship matches to 14 but I was entirely wrong. Three more matches for Hampshire in this form and we’d be gone, whereas we still have a good chance of staying up!

September 22, 2017, 1:10 pm
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Friday mornings I spend in a local art studio so I’ve been painting away and (2pm) only just caught up

In the (in)famous match in 1992, it was the Essex wicketkeeper who led the recovery, but even then they reached 54-4 before being stuffed …

It seems as though Somerset will lose at the Oval, and at 38-7 Hampshire probably will (!!). If so, the positions and points:

Yorkshire 145

Middlesex 143

Hampshire 140

Somerset 127 (132 if they draw)

It means Hampshire go to Edgabston still in a reasonable position, but if Taunton is a turner and it rains in Birmingham …

Given their last-day escape in 2015, their ‘legislated’ escape in 2016, and their collapse late in this season, would it be difficult to argue that relegation is undeserved?

Middlesex win
September 21, 2017, 2:09 pm
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So with that game over and the others bonus points finished, the positions at tea on Thursday are (brackets with draw/win points added by tomorrow night)

Middlesex 143

Hampshire 140 (145/156)

Yorkshire 129 (134/145)

Somerset 127 (132/143)

It seems improbable that Somerset will win but they could. Yorkshire v Warwicks continues to look pretty even.

Somerset might have to win v Middlesex at Taunton next week. If Hampshire win tomorrow and Somerset don’t, Hampshire will be safe by virtue of one more win, even if Somerset take 24 points and Hampshire none.

Day Three
September 21, 2017, 10:06 am
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Maybe the Weather Gods have it in for Hampshire?

Middlesex have made a very good start with three wickets in the first half-hour, and Surrey have now reached 110 overs so, at last. all the bonus points are sorted and the current positions (Thursday morning) are:

Hampshire 140 (3 wins)

Yorkshire 129 (3)

Middlesex 127 (3)

Somerset 127 (2)

Add 16 points for a win or 5 for a draw with Middlesex best-placed to win, then probably Yorkshire &/or Hampshire (both fairly level-pegging). Somerset will do well to win at the Oval.

PS Middlesex, three wickets in first half-hour but no more now in the hour since. Lancs need 115 to win with six left.

PPS. I missed that Hameed, going well, has retired hurt with a bad hand injury. That might stuff Lancs – and add to England’s problems. Time to pick Geoff Boycott’s mum.

Wot No Floodlights?
September 21, 2017, 9:39 am
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I know, you’re not allowed to use floodlights if they improve the light …

Muddled Thinking?
September 20, 2017, 4:43 pm
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I’ve listened to very little today – and seen nothing of course – so my observation is speculative. Hampshire’s team selection, preferring Ervine to Crane, suggested a relatively cautious approach with the hope they would score lots of runs and ensure at least a high points draw. But enforcing the follow-on seems to be the opposite, and now, unless the new ball and the new day create a change in events, Essex might have the opportunity to force a victory. If they had selected Crane, would they have batted again?

The very recent forecast suggests the rain tomorrow might not arrive until about tea-time.

Day Two
September 20, 2017, 6:39 am
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I’m not about much again today, but add Comments please – especially if you’re there.

It seems, with Edwards fit, that Hampshire’s preferred pace attack is firing well, let’s hope they can sustain it. It’s a shame that the first three are now all 30+ (and all four born abroad) but at least it’s working, and providing an opportunity to emulate the Hampshire side of 1946 (see below) and take the current team to safety. The Somerset and Middlesex games are helping

The batting is inconsistent however, and Kevan James was suggesting yesterday that imminent departures would free up the money to find (ie ‘buy’) another batter. That will be interesting with Bailey returning, and Rossouw fit again – add Vince and a new signing, and what will happen to Alsop and/or Weatherley?

As for Crane, could he end up like those young ‘leggies’ at Sussex (Beer) and Somerset (Waller), specialising in white ball cricket? He’ll soon be the most experienced 12th man in the country.