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Posts Tagged ‘hampshire’

Next season’s Twenty20 cup looks set to be an altogether more glamourous affair, with Middlesex having already signed Adam Gilchrist and hopeful of adding Sachin Tendulkar as well. Add to this the arrival of Ajantha Mendis at Hampshire, and county cricket in general is looking like it might be a little easier on the eye next season.

Lancashire, not to be outdone, have made Lily Allen an honorary member.

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Although the 2011 World Cup is still two years away, qualification begins tomorrow for the 2015 competition with Division 7 of the World Cricket League. After Afghanistan’s heroics over the last year, the minnows of Bahrain, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Japan, Nigeria and Suriname (who don’t seem to have a website) will be hoping for some glory of their own:

  • Gibraltar are a bit of a mystery – I haven’t been able to uncover much detail of their team. If anyone out there is an authority on cricket in the 2.25 square miles of Spain that decided in 1967 that it wanted to stay part of Britain as the locals were all fans of The Beatles, please get in touch
  • Guernsey became associate members of the ICC as recently as last July, but the advantage of hosting the tournament may lift home hopes. The only cricketer from Guernsey that I’m aware of is Lee Savident, who used to play for Hampshire. Near neighbours Jersey are a couple of divisions further up, and the prospect of a Channel Islands derby may provide further motivation, if needed.
  • Japan were as high as Divison 5 in the WCL last year, but have some rebuilding to do. Their experience of playing in Jersey last year should prepare them for conditions in Guernsey, and coach Richard Laidler has high hopes that Japan will rise back up the ladder by finishing in the top 2 this time around.
  • Nigeria had some visa problems in the run-up to the competition, which I hope have been sorted out now. Nigeria actually played their first cricket international way back in 1904 against the Gold Coast (now Ghana), but were subsumed into the West African team for much of the last 40 years. I have to admit to a lack of knowledge of the current team, but hopefully that will change over the next few days.

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  • Durham surprised a lot of people with their Championship win last year, and with Steve Harmison out of favour with England once again, their bowling attack looks just as strong as it was in 2008. Ian Blackwell has come in to bolster the middle order and add a spin option, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns in June following the World Twenty20.
  • Hampshire arguably owe last year’s survival, let alone their eventual third place, to the spin bowling of Imran Tahir, who returns from June. In the meantime, Australian Marcus North comes in as an overseas player to add runs, and Dominic Cork also arrives following his release by Lancashire. Chris Tremlett will also be key for the attack, whilst Mascarenhas’ England and IPL commitments will drain the Rose Bowl’s resources for much of the season.
  • Lancashire have released Dominic Cork and Stuart Law, whilst Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are likely to make very few appearances for their county, so the Red Rose lineup will be somewhat unfamiliar in places. Mark Chilton and Francois Du Plessis need to improve on last year’s performances with the bat, or relegation may threaten to make Peter Moores’ 2009 even worse.
  • Nottinghamshire may spend the majority of the season watching their three best bowlers ply their trade for England, so the likes of Shreck and Pattinson will be key. If Samit Patel gets fit enough to be called up as well, the side could look a little thin in the middle order, but if newlywed Adam Voges can translate his limited-overs form to the four-day game then the prospect of a title challenge isn’t too far-fetched to consider.
  • Somerset continue to have an incredibly strong top order (especially with and Marcus Trescothick as an opening pair), but with Ian Blackwell moving to Durham and Andy Caddick into his 40s, the bowling attack looks worryingly thin. Unless a young gun steps up to take wickets, a proliferation of draws may ensue.
  • Warwickshire face the step up from Division Two without Ian Salisbury, but Jeetan Patel should be a strong addition to their four-day side. If Ian Bell stays out of the England team long enough to feature regularly, then the Bears can reap the benefits. Similarly, Tim Ambrose will be a force in the County game even he doesn’t cut it at Test level.
  • Worcestershire enter the post-Hick era in 2009, which puts a lot of pressure on Vikram Solanki and the likes of Stephen Moore. Gareth Batty’s recent England call-up underlined his quality with the ball, but the pace attack is relatively weak, especially given Simon Jones’ continuing injury problems. If Solanki and Kabir Ali find form, then the side can look for more than just consolidation in their return to Division One.
  • Yorkshire came uncomfortably close to relegation last year, but players of the quality of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Matthew Hoggard and Adil Rashid should see them improve in 2009 (assuming England call-ups don’t intervene). A championship challenge may be asking too much, and adjusting to life without Darren Gough will be difficult, but there is enough class (especially with Jacques Rudolph in the side) for a top-half finish.

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Back in April, things looked pretty bad for Hampshire. Warne had retired, Mascarenhas was off to join him for a stint in the IPL, and they’d only just managed to sign Shane Bond after much legal wrangling due to his ICL links.

At the time of writing, they sit atop the County Championship Division One table. They’ve played one more game than their nearest rivals, so probably won’t win the thing, but nevertheless, hats off to them.

Particular kudos is due to Michael Carberry, Nic Pothas and Imran Tahir.

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